Unions make a difference both at work and in the quality of life you earn. We call that difference the union advantage.

The labour movement was created by people standing up together for fair wages, safe workplaces and decent work hours. Many of the benefits and standards won for our members are enjoyed by all workers today, such as minimum wage, health and safety regulations, and overtime.

Having a union on your side makes your job and your workplace safer and fairer. You get paid better and are more likely to have benefits that help you balance work with life at home. Your health and ability to do your job become important and your right to fair treatment gets enforced.

Each year, just in time for Labour Day, the Canadian Labour Congress releases research to show the economic benefits of having unions at work – for workers and the communities where they live. This year’s UNION ADVANTAGE report features information about how union membership made a difference in the lives of workers in every province and territory, in 29 communities, for working women, young workers, landed immigrants and Aboriginal workers.

It shows that, on average, unionized workers across Canada earned $5.28/hour more than non-union workers. Women with unions earned more too ($7.10/hour) and got paid more fairly. Workers under age 25 earned an extra 27% from jobs covered by a collective agreement.

But this advantage doesn’t just belong to union members. It benefits everyone.

Workers in unions are an important part of the local community and economy because that’s where they spend their paycheques. Their incomes support local businesses (who create local jobs) and bolster the local tax base, which supports public works and community services that add to everyone’s quality of life.

The benefits enjoyed by unionized workers (dental insurance, extended health care coverage and legal insurance, to name a few) attract and support dentists, opticians, chiropractors, therapists, health specialists, and family lawyers whose services are available to everyone in the community.

When they retire, the incomes earned from years of contributions into pension plans also provide money to spend in the community. More importantly, they provide income security, which means fewer seniors having to rely on their families or social programs to get by. Same goes for the health, drug and survivor benefits that many retirees enjoy because they had a union when they worked.

When unions stand up for fairness, they raise the bar for everyone. Many of the things first won by unions are enjoyed by all workers today – minimum wages, overtime pay, workplace safety standards, maternity and parental leave, vacation pay, and protection from discrimination and harassment.