When considering forming a union in your workplace, it is important you know the facts about a union. Management may take advantage of your lack of knowledge about the union, therefore you must be equipped with some basic information.
What is a union?
A union is a group of workers who join together to achieve better wages, better benefits, respect on the job, and a stronger voice in workplace decisions. With the help of a union, workers negotiate a contract with their employer to ensure these things.
Without a union, employers have 100% control over its employees and complete authority to make all decisions. Unions give employees some of this control to make their workplace better. The primary goal of the union is to give workers a voice on the job for respect, safety, security, better pay and benefits, and other improvements to working conditions.
Who runs the union?
You and your fellow workers run the union. You elect your own negotiating committee, and prepare your own list of improvements for a union contract. You elect your officers and you have worker representatives who understand the contract so they can help other workers with questions and represent them if their are problems.
How does the union work?
After the workers achieve recognition as a union, you will elect a negotiating committee from among your co-workers. The negotiating committee will then survey workers to see what they want in their contract. With the assistance of union negotiators, the committee will bargain with management to negotiate a contract. Legally, both sides must bargain in "good faith," meaning they must be willing to work together and reach an agreement on a contract. Issues typically discussed are wages, benefits, and working conditions. Once a majority of workers approve a contract, it immediately goes into effect.
Can we lose the benefits we have now if we unionize?
No. Threatening to take away your benefits is a commonly used scare tactic employers use to keep workers from forming a union. The purpose of forming a union is to win improvements within the workplace, not lose them. On average, unionized workers earn a third more than non-unionized workers in wages and benefits.
What benefits can the union guarantee?
When workers come together with the strength of the union behind them, they have the power to bargain and a collective voice that could not be achieved without a union. Because it is you, the workers, who make the decisions about your contract, no guarantees can be made. However, once the union is voted in, the contract will be legally binding and the union will make sure it's enforced.