Unions have been fighting for workers for decades and as they have been gaining wins for employees, naturally employers and CEO’s are fighting back.
Unfortunately, they have been somewhat successful. Union membership has declined but the spirit of solidarity has not gone away, and the future is looking brighter as young people have begun to rally around unions. In a Gallup poll that showed the approval of unions rising, millennials, aged 18 to 34, were more pro-union than any other group.
That’s good news because a future without unions could be devastating to all Canadians in many ways.
1. Pay Would Drop for Everyone
Unions set the bar for pay for union and non-union workers. Union members earn on average $5.28/hour more than non-union workers in Canada. That is an extra $43.2 billion into our economy. Without that standard being set, employers would no longer have to compete with well-paying jobs. Pay would drop lower and lower with no one to fight for better pay. You would see entry-level wages being lowered, while most workers end up working way harder for much less. The current trend of low-wage precarious work would spread like wildfire.
2. Inequality Would Rise
The goal of unions is to level the playing field between workers and employers. The influence of unions has meant that wealthy employers have to share their profits with workers. Without unions, there would be no one there to keep that balance in check. Studies over the years have directly linked the decline in unionization with the rise in inequality. If we lose unions, we lose the middle class and there would be a strong dividing line between rich and poor.
3. You Would See More Racism and Discrimination
Unions have a goal of bringing together all workers, no matter what race, gender, religion or ethnicity they are. They also have a long history of supporting civil rights, LGBTQ rights and standing alongside anti-racist institutions. With no unions, there would be less pressure on employers to ensure that all workers could work free of discrimination in the workplace.
4. Decline in Workplace Conditions
Most of the safety regulations we have in place today have a lot to do with unions. With no unions, workers would face working in extreme heat or cold, being forced into unsafe working conditions and extremely dangerous work environments. The government safety agencies and employers themselves would have much less pressure to follow or enforce safety protocol.
5. Basic Workplace Rights Would Deteriorate
We take our basic workplace rights for granted and often forget that just a few decades ago, we didn’t have a lot of the things we have today. Unions fought for and created weekends, stat holidays, breaks and the 40-hour work week. As we move into a world where automation and globalization are on the rise, not only will we have no one to fight for more workplace rights, the ones we have will most likely deteriorate.
It’s pretty scary to think about a world without unions. It’s clear it would impact not only your job but also greater society. That’s why it is so important that we support unions and continue to fight for workers’ rights across the country.