If you are not in a union, you are leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars in lifetime earnings on the table. And the CEO is tilting that table, so it all spills into his pocket.

Today, The Century Foundation released a new report on the prospects for using technology to assist in labor organizing. Please read the full report if you are so inclined. Or, you can just lazily pay attention to this portion of the report which we are breaking out: the numbers showing how much more money unionized workers earn over a lifetime.

On a very basic level, unions are a mechanism that allow workers to get a larger portion of the money generated by a business for themselves. Absent an organized work force that is able to assert its power through collective bargaining, that extra money tends to go to executives and managers at the very top of a company, or to outside investors, rather than to the mass of workers.

From the report, bolding ours:

According to published reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), median earnings for a two-income, nonunion family are $400 a week less than that of a union family. Over a lifetime, that adds up to more than a half million dollars in foregone wealth.3

Even when one accounts for characteristics that can affect earnings other than unionization, such as education, experience, occupation, hours worked, marital status, having children, state of residence, and (unfortunately) sex, race, and citizenship—the gap between union and nonunion workers remains nearly as large. Among private-sector workers who are otherwise similar, union members have per hour earnings that are 27.6 percent greater, on average, than those of nonunion workers.

And here is a lovely chart, also from the report, that illustrates this dynamic across a number of different industries. How much money are you sacrificing because you are not able to bargain collectively for higher wages?

The fact that the vast majority of American workers are not unionized means that they make less money than they could, and that money goes to the relatively rich people who run the companies rather than the many poorer people who do the work. If you want to change that, organize.

[The full report. Photo via AP]

Contact the author at Hamilton@Gawker.com.