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The Union Advantage at Work

Indypendent Staff Oct 6, 2004

On average union members make more money than their non-union counterparts and enjoy superior health and retirement benefits. Organized labor affects non-union workers because employers fear workers will organize. The average non-union worker in an industry with 25% union representation appears to gain 5.0% to 7.5% higher wages because of union presence. Union workers are also protected from arbitrary firings and unfair discipline.
• Union members make 15% more in wages than non-union workers
• Union workers get about 26% more vacation time and 14% more total paid time off
• Unionized workers are more likely than their non-unionized counterparts to receive paid leave, are approximately 18% to 28% more likely to have employer-provided health insurance, and are 23% to 54% more likely to be in employer-provided pension plans.
• They also pay 18% lower health care deductibles and a smaller share of the costs for family coverage. In retirement, unionized workers are 24% more likely to be covered by health insurance paid for by their employer.
• Unionized workers receive better pension plans. Not only are they more likely to have a guaranteed benefit in retirement, their employers contribute 28% more toward pensions.
• The largest employer in the country is Wal-Mart, with 1.4 million workers. Wal-Mart workers earn an average of $18,000 a year. Wal-Mart supplanted General Motors as the largest U.S. company three years ago. A General Motors assembler earns three times more than a Wal-Mart worker.
[sources:www.laborresearch.org
and Economic Policy Institute]
Contacts: Yoni Mishal, Erin Siegel, Amelia H. Krales, David Gochfeld, Nik Moore

WORKER CENTERS PICK UP THE SLACK
Many immigrant workers find the good old boy system of unions to be uninviting and disinterested in their concerns. These workers, together with community members, have formed worker centers. Worker centers offer information on immigration law and work related problems tailored to their communities. Below are some organizations you can contact.

WORKER CENTERS
Chinese Staff and Workers Association: 718-633-9748, 212-619-7979
Make the Road by Walking: 718-418-7690
Community Voices Heard: 212-860-6001
Filipino Workers Center: 212-741-6806
Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence: 718-220-7391 Ext. 12
CORPORATIONS WIN SPENDING MATCH
Unions are spending big to oust President Bush from office and to organize new members. However in the 2004 election they will be outspent by corporate America by a large margin. Notoriously anti-union Wal-Mart gives more money to Republican candidates than any other company. Richard Farmer of the Cintas corporation (uniform and laundry chain), which is fighting attempts by workers who want to organize with UNITE-HERE, is a Bush campaign “Ranger.” Rangers are the largest donors followed by Pioneers and Mavericks.
· AFL-CIO will spend $44 million to elect Kerry as President
· SEIU, the largest union in the AFL-CIO, will spend $65 million and send 2,000 paid members to work for Kerry
· SEIU uses over half of its $100 million spending budget for membership growth
· AFSCME-the second largest AFL-CIO member and a municipal workers union, spent $25 million to organize 60,000 new members in 2001
· Richard Farmer from Cintas Corporation has given $1,947,371 to Republican candidates
· Jay Allen, senior vice president of corporate affairs for Wal-Mart, raised at least $100,000, earning him the Bush campaign’s designation of “Pioneer”
· Bush has campaign receipts totalling $338,615,189, most of which is raised by individual donors with corporate ties
[sources: NY Times, SEIU website, www.laborresearch.
org and www.georgebush.com]
Contact: Erin Siegel
LINKS
Association for Union Democracy
uniondemocracy.org
Teamsters for a Democratic Union
tdu.org
Pride at Work (LGBT workers)
prideatwork.org
Longshoremen Rank and File
ilarankandfile.org
LaborNotes.org
Coalition of Black Trade Unionists
cbtu.org
HARD LABOR: photos by the NYC Indymedia photo team. imcnyc-
photo@indymedia.org

Reporting and research by The Indypendent Staff