As Labor Day approaches, I am reminded of the economic importance of the labor movement to workers. Consider this information cited by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics in their press release on union members in 2015: “Median weekly earnings of nonunion workers [$776] were 79 percent of earnings for workers who were union members [$980].”
As the income inequality debate continues throughout the country, one fact is not in doubt – union workers are paid better. If you want to fight income inequality, the answer is to grow unions … but there’s more to it than that.
As a union member I know that the benefits of membership go well beyond increased wages, as most collective bargaining agreements include health insurance and pension contributions, and provide for safe work sites and grievance procedures to ensure fairness on the job. But at Ullico, it doesn’t stop there. We add value to Union Pension, Health & Welfare, and General Funds when we invest in projects that have an economic effect that is multiplied and ripples throughout communities, all while providing a stable rate of return on benefit fund investments.
Let me give you an example to help connect the dots. When our J for Jobs investment platform puts money in a hotel project, who benefits in addition to the investors? Union contractors are hired, the union construction trade workers on the project benefit with good wages. The contributions negotiated in their collective bargaining agreements go into their benefit funds to provide ongoing financial stability, and the local taxes paid by the workers on their wages may help employ union teachers, municipal workers, police and firefighters. The state taxes help employ workers from universities and community colleges to public healthcare facilities, supporting essential state services that working people depend on every day.
But it’s even more than that, because if it’s a Ullico project, project owners and contractors are required to be neutral in union organizing campaigns. So hotel workers, for example, get an opportunity to join a union, and in turn may receive better wages, health care, a pension, and most importantly, a real voice on the job. That’s the Ullico difference — growing the labor movement, while improving local communities. J for Jobs works. It has been growing and supporting the labor movement for almost 40 years. It’s all about harnessing the economic power of labor’s money to make it truly work for workers. It’s not rocket science; it’s just common sense.
Edward M. Smith
President and CEO