Unionized Workers Maintain Better Health Care Coverage

During tough economic times, union-worker health benefits suffer less.

A recent study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute showed that while both union and nonunion workers are affected by decreasing health care coverage, union members are faring much better.

Health insurance coverage for union workers fell from 82% in 2007 to 80.4% in 2009, a 2% decline. That compares with a drop for from 55.9% to 52.2% for nonunion workers.

"The analysis shows that unionization is a key to many workers having health benefits, and that during tough economic times, union worker health benefits suffer less, said Paul Fronstin, director of EBRIs Health Research and Education Program. "However, if unionization in the private sector continues to decline, the percentage of workers with employment-based health benefits will continue to decrease as well."

Among those workers who were offered health coverage at work but declined it, cost was the top reason cited for both union workers (75.7%) and nonunion (84.4%).

Employers not offering health coverage was the second-most reported reason why union workers (17.7%) and nonunion workers (27.4%) were uninsured.

And one major union, the UAW, is fighting to preserve its health care benefits. As the UAW enters into negotiations with GM, Ford and Chrysler next week, its president Bob King told the Detroit Free Press on July 20th that he will resist any effort to raise members' health care contributions.

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