The gap between union and non-union wages in Ontario has grown significantly since the start of the recession in 2008, increasing by $1.71 per hour, Statistics Canada data indicates.
The hourly union advantage grew by 34 cents per hour each year on average. For a full time worker, that means the advantage for having union coverage in your workplace is growing by about $663 per year.
Compared to five years ago, that means the union wage advantage for an employee working full time hours has grown by $3,334 per year.
In July 2008, the union premium was already considerable at 26.5% ($25.75 average wage per hour for those with union coverage versus $20.35 for those without, a $5.40 an hour difference).
Five years later, in July 2013, the union premium had grown to 31.7%. Union wages averaged $29.56 in 2013 versus $22.45 for workers without union coverage. That is a $7.11 advantage for workers with union coverage.
Temporary Workers: the biggest advantage?
Unionized temporary employees are especially far ahead of their non-union counterparts, with the union premium growing from 55.1% in 2008 to 60.9% in 2013. For permanent employees, the gap grew from to 21.4% to 26.1%.
Women Workers Especially Benefit
The union premium is also especially marked for women workers. The union advantage for women workers in Ontario was 37.9% in July 2008 and is now 41%. That is $8.41 per hour extra. For men the difference is less but still quite large, at 17.5% in 2008 and 24.3% now (with a $5.91 per hour premium in July 2013).
Across Canada, the union premium is not quite so marked, and the premium has grown more slowly over the last five years.
Still, with the gap growing from 23.7% to 25.1% (from a $4.65 per hour premium to a $5.56 per hour premium) the union advantage is quite large and growing.
As in Ontario, temporary workers across Canada especially benefit from workplaces with union coverage. The gap is currently $7.85 per hour. For temporary workers, however, the dollar gap is only somewhat larger than 2008, when the union premium was $6.80. As well, the percentage difference has slightly shrunk, from just over 49% to just under 49%.
The union premium across Canada for women workers is also especially large, but grew only slightly over the five years, from 35.1% to 35.7% (or from $6.06 per hour to $7.09 per hour).
Union coverage means higher wages, especially for women and temporary workers
The gap between union and non-union wages is quite marked and it is growing. The advantage of being employed in a unionized workplace is especially marked in Ontario and the benefit is growing especially quickly there. Women and temporary workers especially benefit from union coverage, and, in Ontario, the union premium for women workers and temporary workers is growing at a significant pace.
Update: Someone asked me about if union dues offset the union advantage. For the extra $1.71 an hour earned by unionized employees over the last five years compared to non-union employees, take off about 3 cents in union dues. (If union dues are 1.5%, the exact amount would be 2.57 cents. With 2% union dues, the amount would be 3.42 cents.) And a lot of that would be gained back as union dues are tax exempt.