Unions provide additional protection for injured workers with increased job safety procedures, union representation, and job security measures.

Illinois Unions Offer Worker Protections

In 2020, Illinois ranked 13th in the nation for union affiliation, with 739,000 union workers employed throughout the state. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, union workers accounted for 14.3 percent of the state wage and salary for workers in 2020. In the greater Chicago metro area, there are 1,590 labor unions within the cities of Bolingbrook, Des Plaines, Evanston, Elgin, Naperville, Hoffman Estates, Schaumburg, Skokie, and Chicago.

Under Illinois laws, all employers within the state are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees, including union workers. When work-related injuries occur, workers’ compensation benefits cover the following due to injuries:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages 
  • Wage Differential
  • Rehabilitation costs
  • Vocational training
  • Partial or permanent disabilities

Illinois union workers may receive extra protections because they are often represented by special interest groups and workers’ comp lawyers who represent local unions. Union members may receive additional benefits negotiated on their behalf by union representatives. Illinois workers’ compensation laws do not require employers to hold a worker’s position if he/she is not able to work because of an injury. However, a union contract may prevent an employer from replacing a worker who is recovering from work-related injuries.

Unions provide extra protection for workers’ health and safety because they allow workers to speak up about workplace hazards without fear of retaliation. In addition to collective bargaining, union workers have an active voice on job issues that promote job safety and reduce workplace accidents and injuries seen by Illinois workers’ comp lawyers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fatality rates are 54 percent higher in states with right-to-work laws.

Generally, unions are associated with higher productivity, lower employee turnover, improved workplace communication, and a better-trained workforce. Union members work together to negotiate and enforce a contract with management that guarantees member benefits like affordable health care, job security, higher raises, and a stable work schedule.

There are many private and public-sector labor unions in the state of Illinois, each with its labor contract that members must adhere to. These contracts outline the workers’ compensation benefits that a member receives if he/she is injured on the job or sustains an occupational illness. The largest union is the Illinois Education Association, with more than 137,000 members.

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