Unionization Substantially Improves the Pay and Benefits of Women Workers

A new report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) documents a large wage and benefit advantage for women workers in unions relative to their non-union counterparts.

The report, "Unions and Upward Mobility for Women Workers," found that unionized women workers earned, on average, 11.2 percent more than their non-union peers. In addition, women in unions were much more likely to have health insurance benefits and a pension plan.

"For women, joining a union makes as much sense as going to college," said John Schmitt, a Senior Economist at CEPR and the author of the study. "All else equal, joining a union raises a woman's wage as much as a full-year of college, and a union raises the chances a woman has health insurance by more than earning a four-year college degree."

The report , which analyzed data from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey (CPS), found that unionization raises the pay of women workers by almost $2.00 per hour. According to the report, women workers in unions were also 19 percentage points more likely to have employer-provided health insurance, all the more significant, since women pay higher premium rates individually than men. Women workers were also 26 percentage points more likely to have an employer-provided pension plan than women workers who were not in unions.

The study also shows that unionization strongly benefited women workers in otherwise low-wage occupations. Among women workers in the 15 lowest-paying occupations, union members earned 14 percent more than those workers who were not in unions. In the same low-wage occupations, unionized women were 26 percentage points more likely to have employer-provided health insurance and 23 percentage points more likely to have a pension plan than their non-union counterparts.

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