The workplaces of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were fraught with hazards to workers. Labor laws were nonexistent, and deaths were commonplace. Labor unions and the workers’ compensation system began to grow from this harsh reality.

Labor unions and the workers’ compensation system have long played an important role in workplace safety. Workers’ comp benefits have become an essential benefit to both union and nonunion members alike.

The “grand bargain”

Before the 20th century, workers were valued for little more than their raw labor. If a worker was injured or killed on-the-job, you could sue the employer. However, then as now, a lawsuit was no guarantee of success. Enter the “grand bargain.”

The establishment of the workers’ compensation system was a groundbreaking agreement between workers and their employers. Workers could now recover benefits for any workplace injuries or work-related illnesses. Employers no longer had to worry about the injured worker filing a lawsuit. Workers’ compensation is the only way to recover benefits from an employer.

Labor unions provide additional safeguards

At the same time the workers’ compensation system was becoming established, unions started to gain a foothold in American industries. Unions have always pushed for additional safeguards, helping to reduce workplace injuries and workers’ compensation claims.

Unions have continued to serve as a bulwark against the erosion of workplace safety measures. The ongoing advocacy of labor unions has helped to protect all employees.

Workers’ comp is a crucial benefit for all workers

Whether you are a member of the teacher’s union, the police officer’s union, the steelworker’s union, or any other organized labor force, you benefit from workers’ compensation and workplace protections. Even if you don’t have a union job, you are still eligible for workers’ comp benefits. You should discuss your options with a skilled professional following a workplace injury.