Political scientists at Notre Dame in the United States found that a 1 percent increase in union density increases voter turnout by 0.2 to 0.25 percentage points - that means that in 2008 2.6 to 3.2 million more Americans would have voted. They attribute this to people basically doing a cost-benefit analysis in their head - they want to be involved but they must think of it as being worthwhile. And the costs of action, such as time, money and energy are high and people might think they won't make a difference anyway. Here's where unions come in because they decrease the costs and increase the benefits so that more people get involved - they have the legal expertise, resources, strength in numbers, experience in mobilizing, etc . Also, when unions provide info about issues and elections, non union members learn too. The scientists found that few people will participate spontaneously in politics, but they are more likely to do so when groups like unions mobilize them. [1]


In Canada the union density (percentage of unionized workers compared to all workers) has been decreasing since the Second World War.This decline has been most abrupt since 1980 when the density was 35 %.

If the union density returned to the 1980 level that would represent an additional 148,000 Canadians participating in the Federal election.
  1. ^ Madland, Bunker; January 2012
  2. ^ Huffington Post; May 2012.