Much like a family pulling together to protect and provide, the family of a union works in unison to improve conditions for members, their communities, and society as a whole.
When unions win better working conditions, wages, and benefits for their members, these gains are shared. Good union jobs result in wages being spent on goods and services in the community, lifting all boats on a rising tide of fair treatment and pay.
The history of unions shows a movement that actively seeks to raise the standard of living for all workers, fights for legislation to protect workers, strives for union benefits including family leave and minimum-wage standards, and campaigns for enhanced retirement security.
Unions help the family of a country work better, improving democracy itself through campaigns for environmental policies, social improvements and political action that advances the interests of working Canadians. A healthy democracy requires active trade unions. In countries that lack a union movement, poverty, injustice and instability are common elements.
It’s not just union leaders and advocates for workers’ rights who say this. Bodies as conservative as the World Bank agree. In its 2003 report, Unions and Collective Bargaining Economic Effects in a Global Environment, the bank stated that countries with higher unionization rates have less income inequality, lower levels of unemployment, more productive and were able to adjust more quickly to economic shocks.
Another report, this one from the International Labour Organization, drew a connection to income inequality, finding it was less in countries with higher unionization rates than in those were unions were discouraged.
“The countries in which union density rates are higher are also the ones in which the welfare state is more developed, taxation levels higher and more progressive, collective bargaining more centralized and labour law both closer to international labour standards and better implemented,” it stated.
Unions are especially important when countries lapse into recession, as the purchasing power that comes from higher wages are important economic drivers. Unionized workers are consumers, buying goods and services, supporting local economies. Union benefits earned, including health coverage, mean families have access to needed health services, facilitating the growth of such services. Even when they retire, unionized workers continue to contribute economically through the pension benefits they have won. In essence, unions raise the bar for everyone.
Workplaces that provide family friendly benefits are essential to the growth and stability of the middle class, with parental leave, flexible work arrangements, sick pay and leave, and many other benefits. These benefits didn’t come from individual action, but rather the application of a collective voice, a family of union members. And as we all know, families that are united fare better than those that are not.
The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) knows the value of family, including the family of union members, and how workers benefit from a collective voice. Contact us today to learn how we can support you and your family.