Union Workers Happier and More Satisfied With Their Jobs
By Michelle Kaminski, MSU Labor Education Program
Unions exist to improve conditions for working people. But beginning in the 1970s, research consistently showed that unionized workers were less satisfied with their jobs than non-union workers. Researchers were puzzled by this. Why were unionized employees less satisfied with their jobs?
- Was it because the higher pay and benefits enticed workers to stay at jobs they would otherwise quit?
- Was it because people who worked in industries with overall poor working conditions were more likely to form unions?
- Was it because the grievance procedure gave workers a voice to address problems, and the union served as their advocate?
A new comprehensive study by Blanchflower, Bryson, and Green examined data from 2 million employees in the U.S. and Europe and found that there has been a significant change.
Beginning in about 2000 there was no difference in job satisfaction between union and union-workers. But since the Great Recession of 2008, union workers have been significantly more satisfied with their jobs than non-union workers. A big reason for this is that union workers report knowing that good union jobs are not easily replaced.
As an added bonus, union workers are also happier and more satisfied with their lives in general. And finally, there is a generational shift. Beginning with workers born in the 1960s, unionized workers are more satisfied with their jobs than non-union workers.
Bottom line: Today’s unionized workers are happier than their non-union counterparts.
Citation: Blanchflower, DG, Bryson, A, Green, C. Trade unions and the well-being of workers. British Journal of Industrial Relations 2021; 1– 23. https://doi-org.proxy2.cl.msu.edu/10.1111/bjir.12627