Claim: Family-friendly workplace policies traced to unions
July 16, 2009
• Fewer worries about taking medical leave
• ‘Policies that facilitate a work-family balance are becoming increasingly important’
Unions have a positive impact on family-friendly workplace policies like paid family leave, paid sick days, family health insurance, and child-care benefits, according to a new report released Thursday by the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education and the Labor Project for Working Families.
“As more Americans are struggling to raise and care for their families at the same time they’re holding down a job, workplace policies that facilitate a work-family balance are becoming increasingly important,” says Jenifer MacGillvary of the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education and a co-author of the report, Family-Friendly Workplaces: Do Unions Make a Difference?
(Click on the link below to download a copy.)
According to the UC Berkeley report, evidence from the research literature on family-friendly workplaces suggests:
• Unionization promotes compliance with the Family and Medical Leave Act. Unionized employees are more likely to have heard of the Family and Medical Leave Act, have fewer worries about taking leave, and are more likely to receive fully paid and partially paid leaves.
• Comparing hourly workers who take family and medical leave, 46 percent of unionized workers compared to 29 percent of nonunionized workers receive full pay while on leave.
• Unionized workers are 1.3 times as likely as nonunionized workers to be allowed to use their own sick time to care for a sick child, and they are 50 percent more likely than nonunionized workers to have paid personal leave that can be used to care for sick children.
• Companies with 30 percent or more unionized workers are five times as likely as companies with no unionized workers to pay the entire family health insurance premium. Even when unionized employees are required to pay part of their family insurance premium, they pay a much lower share of the premium than nonunionized workers do.
“As Congress prepares to debate the Employee Free Choice Act in coming months, policy makers should understand that unions have helped improve workplace policies for thousands of working families and could do the same things for millions of families if EFCA becomes the law of the land,” says report co-author Netsy Firestein, executive director of the nonprofit Labor Project For Working Families.
The research consisted of reviewing and distilling a lengthy list of other studies dealing with the issues. The project was paid for by American Rights at Work, which describes itself as “a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to promoting the freedom of workers to organize unions and bargain collectively with employers.”