Prince Edward Island Federation of Labour president Carl Pursey said considering adjustments for inflation, most Canadian workers saw their wages go up by $2 per hour between 1981 and 2010.
“Fortunately there is one way to get a real raise in Canada and that is by joining a union,” he said.
With Islanders heading into the Labour Day weekend, Pursey and several other labour representatives held a news conference Thursday afternoon (Aug. 30) to talk about the difference in wages.
A Canadian Labour Congress study using Statistics Canada data found unionized workers made $5.11 per hour more in 2011 than non-unionized workers.
For P.E.I., unionized workers made on average $9.10 per hour more and that number was 52 cents higher for Charlottetown.
The Canadian Labour Congress said there were 20,100 union members working in P.E.I. in 2011, of which 10,300 were in Charlottetown.
That puts the average wage in P.E.I. at $16.28 for non-unionized workers and $25.29 for those in a union.
Pursey said those higher wages are not just good for the employees, but are also good for the economy with $6.7 million more going into the provincial economy every week.
“So union wages mean a stronger economy for everyone,” he said.
Tony Tracy, a representative with the Canadian Labour Congress, said unions also help close the wage gap for women who tend to get paid less than men for the same job.
“We still have work to do in the trade union movement, in terms of fighting full equity and full equality, but certainly we’ve come a long way,” he said.