Report: Union construction jobsites significantly safer than non-union sites

A new study released by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI) in conjunction with the Project for Middle Class Renewal (PMCR) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) found that union construction jobsites are much safer than their nonunion counterparts. The authors of the report analyzed data from almost 37,000 Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) inspections in 2019 – 2,800 at union jobsites and 34,200 at nonunion jobsites — and discovered that union projects were 19% less likely to have health and safety violations and had an average of 34% fewer violations per inspection when compared to nonunion projects. In short, Robert Bruno, professor of labor and employment relation at UIUC, told The Construction Broadsheet, it is primarily the lack of oversight and accountability. For example, without the union grievance system, he said, there is no incentive to assess and address potential jobsite problems and safety issues and no onsite presence to hold the employer accountable. Jobsite safety is more important than ever, Bruno said, as the nation is about to embark on the infrastructure projects funded by the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Innovation and Jobs Act signed into law by President Joe Biden earlier this month. The report found that a 1% increase in unionization decreased construction violations by 3%.

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