top of page

Why do I need a union?

Simply talking about issues that affect public service employees isn’t enough. To make a difference, our voices must be heard. And we can be heard only when we organize as a union and gain the strength to make real change. Together, our collective voice is heard — on the job and in state legislatures and city halls.


Do union workers get higher wages?

Yes. Workers who are union members earn 30 percent more than non-union workers. Union wages are even greater for women and people of color. Women and African Americans represented by unions earn over 33 percent more than their non-union counterparts. And Latino workers with the union advantage make over 46 percent more than those not represented by a union.


Do union workers get better benefits?

Yes. Union workers are more likely than their non-union counterparts to receive health care and pension benefits. More than eight out of ten union members are covered by health insurance and have a pension plan — versus fewer than half of those not in a union.


Why do I need a union now?

Big corporations and anti-worker politicians are attacking public employees and the services we provide. Their goal is simple: privatize our jobs, strip us of our rights and dismantle the public sector. They’re going after our wages, our pensions and our health care. And in 2005, newly elected governors in Indiana, Kentucky and Missouri took away the bargaining rights of all state employees. This can happen anywhere.


In Washington, D.C., and in state capitols across the country, it’s the same old thing: politicians side with the rich and powerful, and neglect the needs of middle-class families.


Whether you are a public employee or work for a private company providing public services, we have to act now to stop the right-wing rush to lower our wages and benefits and eliminate our rights. That’s why it is so important to build a strong union. 


What is the AFL-CIO?

The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) is the voluntary federation of 55 national and international labor unions, representing more than 10 million working women and men of every race and ethnicity and from every walk of life. The mission of the AFL-CIO is to improve the lives of working families — to bring economic justice to the workplace and social justice to our nation.


What is the difference between AFSCME and the AFL-CIO?

AFSCME is a member of the federation and is one of the unions affiliated with the AFL-CIO.


What is privatization?

“Privatization” occurs when a government body decides that a public service provided by public employees should instead be provided by a private contractor. It is also referred to as “outsourcing,” “competitive sourcing” or “contracting out.” Some public officials and politicians think privatization is a quick fix to address their budget woes. Others see privatization as a way to reduce government and services, and weaken public employee unions.


Yet privatization creates problems, not solutions. Usually privatization involves substituting non-union workers — with lower wages and few, if any, benefits — for AFSCME members with decent wages, health insurance and retirement benefits. Government should support the creation of good-paying jobs to support strong communities.


How does privatization affect AFSCME members?

For AFSCME members — and all public employees and the people we serve — the price of privatization is high. Privatization threatens job security, pay and benefits, working conditions and career opportunities. That is why AFSCME actively works to organize more privatized workers into the union — to bargain for better wages and benefits, and thereby protect the living standards of current AFSCME members.


AFSCME is fighting efforts to privatize public services. Our battle is in Washington, D.C., and in state legislatures, in city halls and in board rooms. Our strategy is to fight privatization early on, using our resources to win each battle. To continue to win, we must elect public officials who will not allow privatization to weaken our communities and our nation.

bottom of page