The results aren’t a product of mysterious union magic. As Gould and McNicholas explain, the work that unions do to establish pay transparency, correct salary discrepancies, establish clearer terms for internal processes such as raises and promotions, and “include grievance procedures for workers who have been discriminated against,” helps workers circumnavigate these issues. Workplace standardization like this can benefit women in particular, who are more likely to encounter discrimination (unconscious or otherwise) along these lines.
These gains are even more important from women of color. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR)’s recent report, The Status of Black Women in the United States, showed that the wider gaps black women face can be remedied through union representation as well. The report found that black women in unions earn an average of 32.2 percent more per week than those in non-union jobs.
There are some drawbacks to union membership of course. A Bankrate.com article on the pros and cons of union membership notes that membership dues “can range from $200 to several hundred dollars per year, partially offsetting higher wages.” Additionally, collective bargaining truly requires falling in line with the consensus, whether you immediately benefit or not. That might involve being passed over for promotions based on seniority or becoming alienated from supervisors who distrust unionized worker.