Unionized workers have more power as a cohesive group than by acting individually. “What you gain is the muscle of collective action,”. Through collective bargaining, workers negotiate wages, health and safety issues, benefits, and working conditions with management via their union.
Rules differ among collective bargaining agreements, but in the event of layoffs, employers usually are required to dismiss the most recent hires first and those with the most seniority last — sometimes called “last hired, first fired.”
Nonunion employees are typically hired “at will,” meaning they can be fired for no reason. However, workers with union jobs can only be terminated for “just cause,” and the misconduct must be serious enough to merit such action. Before an employee can actually be fired, he or she can go through a grievance procedure, and if necessary, arbitration.
The median weekly income of full-time wage and salary workers who were union members in 2010 was $917, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. For nonunion workers, it was $717. More access to benefits. Some 93% of unionized workers were entitled to medical benefits compared to 69% of their nonunion peers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.