The Union Advantage


In “The Union Advantage” LERC faculty members Mark Brenner and Lina Stepick provide the first empirical assessment of the impact of unions on living standards for Oregon workers.

Their findings are consistent with previous national and state-level research, revealing that unions in Oregon raise wages, improve health and pension benefits, reduce overall income inequality, and significantly decrease racial and gender inequalities. Oregon unions also make it much less likely that workers will need to rely on public benefits such as food stamps or welfare.

All other things being equal, the authors find that Oregon workers covered by a union contract:

  • Earn 11% more than non-union workers;
  • Are 17.5% more likely to get health insurance through their job;
  • Are 41% more likely to have an employer-provided retirement plan;
  • Are 35.3% less likely to have family members who rely on public safety net programs;
  • Are 33.8% less likely to belong to a low-income family.

Being covered by a union contract adds an average of $4,701 per year to each worker’s annual income. The authors estimate that unions increased the overall income of working Oregonians by a total of almost $1.4 billion in 2017.

Download “The Union Advantage” (complete report)

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