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?
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.
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 operation.
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).
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.
An employer rarely gives up control over:
Hours of operation
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
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.
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.
In Right to Work states paying dues cannot be required as a condition of employment.
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.
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.
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.
Pay special attention to: