Unions Failing Members: Wage Increases Dwindling

Every union organizing campaign promises increased wages. Regardless what employee currently make or that they sought out union representation to improve safety conditions at their workplace, every union organizer promises increased wages to offset union initiation fees and monthly dues. It’s. Just. That. Simple.

What do unions do when data shows that they are not getting wage increases for their members? Out of the 490 union contracts that the Bureau of National Affairs tracks, 2017 has thus far yielded a lower first year monetary increase (wages and lump sum payments) than in 2016. Another bad trend for unions is the increasing use of lump sum payments instead of wage increases. For example, ContiTech and the Steelworkers recently ratified a contract where the employees received a $1,500 signing bonus but no raise beyond a cost of living adjustment for the next 5 years.

Will the unionized ContiTech workers be in a better financial place in 5 years with a one-time $1,500 signing bonus or a 3% per year wage increase? The $1,500 equates to $300 per contract year, or $0.15 per hour (assuming 2,000 work hours). Conversely, if ContiTech employees earn $20 per hour, a 3% wage increase for the next 5 years would result in a lot more than $0.15 per hour.   

Matt Austin owns Austin Legal, LLC, a boutique law firm based in Ohio that limits its representation to employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. You can reach Matt by calling him at (614) 843-3041 or emailing him at Matt@MattAustinLaborLaw.com.