What Unions Do

Making life Better for You

The Canadian trade union movement is all about improving the everyday lives of all working people. It’s about better wages and benefits. It’s about better pensions and vacations.

Higher Wages

The Union Advantage is clear: In 2013 unionized workers in BC earned on average $5.60 more an hour than non-unionized workers.

The difference for women? $6.49 an hour more than their non-union counterparts. And young workers with a union earn on average $4.35 more an hour.

But unions mean more than higher wages. Through collective bargaining, unions tend to equalize wages among workers and across sectors, helping close the income gap between the rich and poor.

Better Benefits

Benefits such as extended health and dental have a big impact on our quality of life.

Workers in unions are far more likely to have better benefits across the board for both men and women. For example, in 2005:

  • 88.5% of workers with a union received non-wage benefits like drug, vision and dental plans, compared to 68.6% of workers without unions.
  • 92.3% of large workplaces (with 500 or more employees) that were unionized had pension plans, compared to 68.4% of non-union workplaces of similar size.
  • In small workplaces (1-19 employees) just 31.1% of non-union workplaces offered health-related benefit plans and just 12.5% had pension plans. In contrast, 47.6% of similar sized workplaces with unions had health-related benefit plans and 34.2% had pension plans for their workers.

Better Pensions

A pension plan makes it easier for a worker to ensure a decent income in retirement. According to Statistics Canada, 83% of unionized workers have access to a workplace pension plan, compared to 33% of non-union workers.

Safe Workplaces

Every worker deserves to return home from work healthy and safe every day. Every worker has the right to full and complete compensation for workplace injury and disease.

This principle underpins one of the BC Federation of Labour’s fundamental objectives – protecting the health, safety and well-being of all working people in BC and ensuring full compensation for injured and ill workers. Due to this objective, the BCFED is recognized by the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) and the provincial government as a major stakeholder for workers in workplace health and safety issues in British Columbia.