Being covered by a collective bargaining agreement increases the chances of having medical coverage and paid sick time, benefits that are particularly important during a public health crisis. Nearly all, or 94%, of workers covered by a union contract, have access to employee-sponsored health benefits, compared to 68% of nonunion workers, according to recent research
published by the Economic Policy Institute
. Nine of 10 union workers are able to take paid time off when sick, compared to 73% of nonunion workers. And workers represented by organized labor are also more likely to have a financial cushion in weathering economic downturn, as they make 11.2% more on average than non-union workers in the same occupations with similar experience and education.
In reporting on the findings, CBS Moneywatch spoke with social worker Ilana Engleberg
, one of the workers who has been fighting for Housing Works here in NYC to recognize their decision to be represented by RWDSU (scroll down to Upcoming Events to find out how you can help the Housing Works Union this week).
“We’re hoping for a lot of things, but having a say in our workplace, that feels especially important during COVID,” said Engelberg. A labor agreement would make legally binding what are now merely unenforced guidelines to wear face masks and practice social distancing in the office, she added. Housing Works as an organization applauds its employees as essential workers, but that appreciation doesn’t translate into increased wages, said Engelberg.
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