Unions are about a simple proposition: By joining together, working women and men gain strength in numbers so they can have a voice at work about what they care about. They negotiate a contract with their employer for things like a fair and safe workplace, better wages, a secure retirement and family-friendly policies such as paid sick leave and scheduling hours. They have a voice in how their jobs get done, creating a more stable, productive workforce that provides better services and products. Always adapting to the challenges of our nation’s evolving workforce, unions are meeting the needs of workers in today’s flexible and nontraditional work environments. Because no matter what type of job workers are in, by building power in unions, they can speak out for fairness for all working people in their communities and create better standards and a strong middle class across the country.
Union members earn better wages and benefits than workers who aren’t union members. On average, union workers’ wages are 27 percent higher than their nonunion counterparts. Unionized workers are 54 percent more likely to have employer-provided pensions. More than 83 percent of union workers have jobs that provide health insurance benefits, but only 62 percent of nonunion workers do. Unions help employers create a more stable, productive workforce—where workers have a say in improving their jobs. Unions help bring workers out of poverty and into the middle class. In fact, in states where workers don’t have union rights, workers’ incomes are lower.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Why is Management opposed to Unions? Without a Union, management has all the power and is able to make every decision on their own, without input from workers. With a union, workers have a united voice and are able to participate in the decisions that affect wages, benefits and working conditions. When workers are part of a union, management has to share power and decision-making, and this can often be hard for management to accept. In order to stop workers from forming a union, management will often try to intimidate, divide and confuse workers. Management usually hires high-priced consultants that spread misinformation and try to divert workers’ attention from the job improvements that need to be made. Workers have learned that if they stay united and do not let management’s scare tactics distract them, then they will be successful in forming their union and winning job improvements.
Some employers will say almost anything to keep you from joining or forming a union. And with good reason: if you have a union, you have a voice in the decisions that affect you, your job, and your family. Your employer may try to tell you that unions cause everything from bad weather to economic destruction. But the truth is that labor unions are a vital part of any democracy. Union membership is as American as apple pie, and the only way many working people can exercise any control.
“What is a Union?” A labor union is an organization made up of working individuals who have joined forces for the purpose of maintaining, improving, and protecting the interests of workers.
“What are the benefits of joining a Union?” The job of your union is to negotiate on your behalf for better wages and benefits through a legal and binding contract, then to enforce that contract and represent you when you encounter day-to-day problems with your employer. By joining together as a union, you and your co-workers have the collective strength to make sure you get decent contracts and fair treatment on the job. Your right to join or form a union is guaranteed by federal law under the Nation Labor Relations Act.
“Who runs the Union?” Your employer will try to convince you that "the union" is some group of outsiders, trying to come in and "disturb the family atmosphere" and dictate what goes on in the workplace. The truth is that YOU and your co-workers are the union - you elect your own officers and decide what you want your union to do by a democratic process.
“How do I join the Union (IAM)?” The process of organizing can be intimidating if you don't know what to expect. Many employers will resist any attempt their employees make to organize. It's important to remember that it is your LEGAL RIGHT to join a union. The Machinists Union Organizing Department can help you take the first step in becoming a union member. We have an experienced and motivated staff to lead you through your campaign. Click the "Join" tab at the top of the screen and fill out the form to get started.
Can I be Fired or Disciplined for Joining a Union? No. People join unions to get more job security. We believe every worker as the right to join a union. The law is on your side. Without a union, you are only covered by the Employment Standards Act – the bare minimum. When you begin the process of forming a union you become protected by the much stronger NLRA act – the law that protects Union members.You cannot be fired for joining a Union. Under the NLRA you can only be fired for just cause. The National Labor Relations Board is aware that some bad employers would try to fire Union supporters if they could get away with it. Because of this, during a union organizing drive, there is scrutiny placed on your employer. The employer is required to prove to the labor board the reason why someone is let go. When you start the process of joining a union, your job is protected.
Will Management Find Out? Only if you tell them. Joining a Union is 100% confidential. Neither the IAM nor the Labor Board will ever tell your employer if you have signed a membership card.
How does the Union Work? The IAM is a democratic organization run by its members. You elect the local officers. You vote on issues of importance to you. You vote on your contract.
Could We Make Less Money After Joining a Union because of Dues? It doesn’t cost you anything to find out what becoming a member of the IAM can do for you. There will be no dues until the IAM negotiates a contract that is acceptable to you and your co-workers, and you have voted on it by secret ballot. This means as soon as you and your co-workers vote to join the union, the negotiations process will begin; you pay nothing until the IAM delivers a contract that you and your co-workers feel is a significant improvement over what you have now. Unlike other unions, the IAM doesn’t charge any initiation fees to workers forming a union. And because the IAM is a democratic, not-for-profit organization, any dues you pay are 100% tax deductible.
Who can Join a Union? We believe anyone! It is your right to join a union under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). As long as you don’t have the power to hire and fire at the workplace, you can join a Union.
Is my Employer Allowed to Close Down if We Choose to Join a Union? No. It is illegal to close a workplace because a group of employees decide to join a Union. The choice to join a Union is yours, not your employer’s.
What is a Union Contract? Without a contract, your employer can change policies and conditions of work whenever they feel like it. A negotiated Union contract protects the terms and conditions of your employment. Your rights under a Union contract cannot be altered at your employer’s whim. It is enforceable by representatives who work on your behalf with grievance and arbitration procedure. It’s a contract! And it has teeth!
Who Gets to Vote on Forming a Union? The NLRA is very specific about who can and cannot vote. Company owners and managers that hire, fire or discipline are excluded from voting.
Will we have to go on strike? Only you and your co-workers ever get to decide whether to go on strike. The majority of the members in your workplace must vote by secret ballot in favor of a strike before a strike can be called.
Union Dues? Union dues are a lot like insurance. In fact, many people view union dues as "job insurance," though that doesn't tell half the story. Union dues are used not only to protect jobs but to fund negotiations for better wages and working conditions, to pay for professional lawyers when needed, to organize more workers and thus make the union stronger, to train stewards and health and safety committee activists, and many other purposes. Another advantage is that the IAM is a non-profit organization and your union dues are completely tax deductible.
Because unions get their funds only from their members, there are no divided loyalties. Unions stand up for their members - the people who pay all the bills. Yes, unions can cooperate with governments and employers, but where their members' interests are at stake, unions side with their members. In no union is this more true than in the IAM. For example, in order to protect its members' legal rights, the IAM has gone to the US Supreme Court several times - and won!
Will Joining a Union Force our Employer out of Business? This is a threat we hear from many employers and they give you no credit. You and your co-workers aren’t stupid people. You wouldn’t drive your employer out of business by making demands that cannot be met. You are joining the Union only to improve what you have and set in place a contract that gives you a voice in your working lives.
Common sense says that no Union is going to negotiate a Union contract that will cost its members their jobs. Employers often find that because of the Union contract which sets them apart from other non-union companies, that they are more attractive to workers seeking employment and have less turn over.
Copyright 2017, IAMAW District Lodge 160, Seattle, WA