Why unions matter to decent wages | National Union of Public and General Employees

Why unions matter to decent wages

Why Unions matter to Decent Wages

By Sarah Chernik


Unions fought for the minimum wage,

Giving all negotiations a legal starting stage,

Instead of employers asking employees to work for pittances, or for free,

Taking advantage of the desire for employment in you, or in me.


Not everyone knows how, or is good at, negotiation,

And that lack of expertise, or ability, can sabotage compensation.

Unions provide training to stewards, bargaining committees or assign professional staff,

Preventing employers from dismissing or twisting wage discussions with a laugh.


Unions remind the employers of the nation,

That decent wages include total compensation,

Benefits and pensions provide higher quality-of-life than just simple cash,

Providing security in the face of expenses like children’s braces, or a stock-market crash.


In a field in which some companies are unionized, and some are not,

The value of unions remains for the wages sought,

Since unionized contacts become “the comparator market”

Giving non-union staff wage goals to target.


In and beyond workplaces, unions continue the fight

For equal pay, living wages and workplace non-discrimination rights.

So that every worker, regardless of gender, sexuality, race, religion, or disability,

Will be compensated for their labour appropriately.


A consumer-based economy depends on people having money to spend,

And workers being paid a decent wage is the first step to that end.

So when some say the fight for decent wages is an insurmountable wall

Remember that Unions taking on this fight, in truth, helps us all. 

Award date: 
August, 2017
Winner name: 
Sarah Chernik
NUPGE component: 
Why Unions Matter