There are benefits to being in a union, literally.
Unionized workers are more likely to have health insurance coverage through their employer than their non-union peers. What’s more, they were less likely to lose their employer-based health insurance coverage during the recession than workers who aren’t in a union, according to a new study.
The Employee Benefit Research Institute crunched numbers from the U.S. Census data. They found that in 2009, 80.4 percent of unionized workers had health insurance through their job. That was a slight drop from 2007, when 82 percent of union workers had coverage through their employer.
By contrast, 52.2 percent of non-union workers had health insurance coverage through their job in 2009. That’s a steeper drop from 2007, when 55.9 percent of those workers were getting health insurance through an employer.
The numbers are even starker if you include people who were covered as a dependent on other health care plans. Then, 91 percent of union workers had health care coverage through an employer, while 70.6 percent of non-union workers had an employer-based health plan.
The No. 1 reason workers said they were uninsured was because they couldn’t afford the health care plan and had therefore declined it, according to the report. The second most common reason was that their employer didn’t offer a plan.
It’s not necessarily surprising that unionized workers would be more likely to have health insurance, since that’s the kind of benefit unions are likely to push for. But unionized workers make up just a small part of the overall work force.
There were 14.7 million unionized workers in the United States in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Union members made up 11.9 percent of the workforce in 2010, compared to 13.4 percent of the workforce a decade ago.