If you are a union worker who has been injured on the job, you may be wondering how your workers’ compensation benefits will be impacted. While you will still be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits as a union worker, there are some critical ways that being in a union can impact your benefits.
How is Workers’ Compensation Affected by Unions?
While non-union workers who become injured in a workplace accident may receive benefits through workers’ compensation, those who are union members have an additional layer of protection. Examples of protections that unions offer include:
- Collective bargaining agreements
- Union welfare fund
Collective Bargaining Agreements
If you are a union worker, one of the key ways that your workers’ compensation can be impacted is through your collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Your CBA is an agreement between your union and your employer that outlines the terms and conditions of your employment. This can include everything from wages and hours to benefits and safer working conditions (the latter of which can result in fewer work-related injuries).
Creating Safer Work Environments
Over the past few decades, unions have worked tirelessly to improve safety conditions in workplaces across the country. Through a combination of legislation, bargaining, and education, unions have helped reduce the number of on-the-job injuries and illnesses. As a result, workers’ compensation benefits have become less necessary.
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that the rate of work-related injuries, illnesses and death has declined steadily since the early 1990s. This decline can be largely attributed to the unions’ efforts to create safer workplaces. By advocating for stronger safety laws and regulations, bargaining for better working conditions, and providing training on how to avoid injuries, unions have made a profound impact on workplace safety. Thanks to these efforts, workers today are less likely to need workers’ compensation benefits than they were in the past. For an example of how Chicago unions work to create safer environments for their workers, see page 75 of the collective bargaining agreement for the Chicago Journey Plumbers’ Local Union 130.
It’s important to review your CBA so that you understand your rights and obligations when it comes to workers’ compensation.
Union Welfare Funds
Another way that unions can positively impact injured workers is through a union’s welfare fund. Union welfare funds are trust funds that are set up and managed by unions to provide benefits to union members. These benefits can include things like health insurance, pension plans, and, in some cases, disability benefits (i.e., duty disability) that are separate from workers’ compensation.
If your union has a welfare fund, you may be able to receive disability benefits through the fund. It is important to note, however, that the amount distributed from a welfare fund is usually offset by workers’ compensation benefits and, in virtually every scenario, must be paid back to the union fund.
Reminder: Review your CBA as it may have useful information regarding Duty Disability Leave and what is expected of your employer.
How Anesi Ozmon Helps Injured Chicagoan Workers
If you are a Chicagoan worker who has been injured on the job, you may wonder how your workers’ compensation benefits will be impacted. The lawyers at Anesi Ozmon can help. We have experience representing both union and non-union workers in workers’ compensation claims. We understand the unique challenges that union workers face regarding workers’ compensation and can help you navigate the process.