Considering a Union? Don’t vote before you see this (for employees only).
WE GET IT!
You didn’t just wake up thinking, “I really need to send some money to a union.” People seek out unions to solve real problems. We meet thousands of employees every year just like you. Facing tough problems and considering hiring a union to solve them.
You and your coworkers probably tried a lot of other options before talking to a union. Why won’t anyone listen? Can a union help?
This is an important question. But there’s a problem. Unions aren’t popular today (less than 7% of non-government workers belong to one). A lot of the information out there is slanted on both sides (that’s right, anti-union information isn’t always factual either).
Your frustrations and questions are valid. Could we share some experience as someone who’s spent 40 years educating hundreds of thousands of employees in the same boat you’re in today?
Don’t make a hasty decision!
There are a lot of facts available to you if you know where to look. This page will get you started. And remember, nobody who talks to you about unions will be completely neutral. Fact check everything (even us). Then make the best possible choice for you and your family.
Reality Check: The Top Ten Myths About Unions
MYTH 1: More Money
In collective bargaining, your compensation could:
GO UP (but no guarantees)
GO DOWN (union gives up something to get a contract)
STAY THE SAME (and you choose to pay dues)
No one can predict how you will be impacted
MYTH 2: A Voice at Work
In matters of wages and working conditions
The union speaks for you
Even when you don’t agree with the union!
The steward speaks for the union, not you
The company is not required to seek employee input on operations
MYTH 3: I Can't Get Fired
Contracts typically require “just cause” to fire someone
Just cause = misconduct or poor performance
A contract can be more rigid than existing policy
Plus, you can lose your job if the union makes a mistake (like missing a deadline)
MYTH 4: No More Favoritism
A bad union steward can “play favorites” the same way a bad supervisor can.
Complaints are filed against unions for unfairness
Seniority isn’t always fair.
MYTH 5: No More Changes
An employer rarely gives up control over:
Hours of operation
MYTH 6: Everything's In Writing
The union and the employer can agree to changes in benefits during a contract
Benefit changes are often needed to remain competitive
Remaining competitive = job security
MYTH 7: Job Security
A company can cut back for legitimate business reasons.
Remaining competitive is the only job security.
Union retirement funds can and do fail or cut back on benefits.
As unions shrink, their pension plans become weaker.
MYTH 8: "Test Drive" The Union
It’s not that easy to vote a union out!
If the union signs a contract during that year you can’t vote them out for the length of that contract up to three years
Union often attempt to fine or discipline members for attempting to decertify
MYTH 9: I Just Won't Pay Dues
In Right to Work states paying dues cannot be required as a condition of employment. HOWEVER
Unions typically pressure “freeloaders” into paying
Freeloaders can’t vote on strikes & contracts
The union will still speak for you, even if you don’t agree, even if you don’t pay dues.
MYTH 10: I Can't Lose
With a union, you could lose:
Compensation, in bargaining.
Your voice, if you disagree with the union.
Your job, for a union’s mistake (like missing a deadline).
Fairness, with the wrong steward.
Opportunity, due to seniority.
Retirement to a failing pension.
The chance to change your mind.
Money you feel compelled to pay.
The freedom to work out issues directly.
Should you sign a union card?
This helpful guide to the National Labor Relations Act is published by the National Labor Relations Board, the government agency that enforces the labor laws. Click to download the guide. Pay special attention to:
- Page 9 (union security clauses can require you to pay money to union or be fired)
- Page 10 (economic strikers can be permanently replaced)
- Page 12 (employer and union not required to reach an agreement)
- Page 19 (employer can still discharge for economic reasons like “disobedience or bad work”)