Report Shows Economic Benefits of Union Representation

In June, the US Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC) and the House Committee on Education and Labor released a new report analyzing the economic benefits of unions for workers and families.

Evidence shows unionized workers get higher pay, better benefits and more flexibility in their work schedules compared to workers who are not in a union. Actions by Congress and the Biden administration, like enactment of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, have helped protect the right to organize and increased the number of union jobs.

Despite nationwide union membership rates near historic lows, a series of high-profile unionization drives—including at Amazon, Starbucks and Senate cafeteria workers—have put organized labor back in the national spotlight.

Among the report’s key findings:

  • Unions saw a string of high-profile wins in 2021 as unions’ popularity reached a level not seen in over 50 years. In total, there were 951 unionization elections held in 2021, 70% of which were successful, a figure that does not include new unions that were voluntarily recognized by employers.

  • Unionized workers earn 10.2% more than their non-union peers, while also raising wages and benefits for all workers in their industry. Unionized workers also have better benefits and more say over their work schedule compared to workers who are not in a union.

  • Unionization increases wages by 17.3% for Black workers and 23.1% for Latino workers and helps narrow racial and gender economic disparities.

  • By setting a standard for working conditions, unions generate broader spillover benefits for all workers in industries with high rates of unionization—even if individual workers are not themselves in a union.

To accompany the release of the report, JEC Chairman Don Beyer (VA-08) and House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03) issued the following statements:

JEC Chairman Beyer: “Unions are the foundation of America’s middle class. For too long, the wealthy have captured an increasing share of the economic pie. As this report makes clear, unions help address economic inequality and ensure workers actually see the benefits when the economy grows.

“Even better, the positive effects of unions extend beyond just those workplaces that have formally organized. By boosting wages industry-wide, narrowing the gender and racial wage gaps and improving job quality, unions generate benefits that are economy wide.

“Supporting the right to organize puts more money directly into workers’ pockets. That is why I continue to firmly support legislation to strengthen labor protections, including the PRO Act, which passed the House last year and would further strengthen the right of workers to join a union.”

Ed and Labor Committee Chairman Scott: “Today’s report offers the latest evidence that labor unions are workers’ best tool to access higher wages, better benefits, and safer workplaces. In fact, the benefits of union membership extend even to nonunion members and the children of unionized workers.

“The need to protect workers’ right to organize is greater than ever. While wealthy individuals and the largest corporations continue to boost their profits, workers across the country have been forced to work in unsafe conditions for insufficient pay, because they lacked the ability to stand together and negotiate with their employer.

“As Chair of the Education and Labor Committee, I am committed to addressing the decades of anti-worker attacks that have eroded workers’ collective bargaining rights. With the release of this report, I once again call on the Senate to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, which would take historic steps to strengthen workers’ right to organize, rebuild our middle class, and improve the lives of workers and their families.”