Frequently asked questions!

Q How does the union work?

A union is a democratic organization of a majority of the employees in a facility.  The basic idea
of a  union is that by joining together with fellow employees to form a union, workers have a
greater ability to improve conditions at the worksite.In other words, "in unity there is strength."

Q What will be in our contract?

It is for the union employees to decide what to negotiate for.  Your co-workers are already
talking about many issues that are important to them at union meetings.  After you win union
recognition, you will select a negotiating committee from among your co-workers.  Then, with
the assistance of union negotiators, the committee will sit down with management to
negotiate a contract.  The law says that both sides must bargain "in good faith" to reach an
agreement on wages, benefits, and working conditions.  The contract will only take effect after
it is approved (ratified) by a majority of the workers.  It is not possible to know exactly what will
be in the first contract.  Our goal will be to win improvements with each contract.

Q Who runs the union?

The union is a democratic organization run by the members.  Members elect the local officers.  
You vote on many issues of importance to you.  You vote on your contract.  Union members
elect delegates to national conventions, where delegates elect national officers and vote on
major issues affecting the union such as constitutional amendments.  The union is the
people themselves.

Q Won't it cost the company a lot money if the union
comes in?

In the short run, it's true that unions cost employers more in terms of wages and benefits.  But
in the long run, that doesn't necessarily hurt the employer.  Many unions are good for the
employers as well as for the workers.  The reason is simple.  With a union there is higher
morale, and there is a mechanism for workers to have a voice in how the workplace operates.  
Satisfied employees are more productive, and less likely to quit, so there is less turnover.  
Also, management benefits when it gets input from the workers on how the operation could be
run better.

Q Can I be fired for participating in the campaign?

First of all, the law prohibits any employer from discriminating against people in any way
because of their union activity.  If an employer does harass or discriminate against a union
supporter, the union files a charge with the Labor Board, and prosecutes the employer to the
fullest extent.  The best safeguard against the employer harassing anyone is for everybody to
stick together and win their union.  Without a union, management has a free hand to treat
people as they please.  But with a union, everyone has the protection of a union contract.

Q What can the union do about favoritism?

Fairness is the most important part of the union contract.  The same rules apply to everyone.  If
any worker feels that he or she is not being treated fairly, then he or she, of course, still has
the opportunity to complain to the supervisor, just like before.  But under a union contract, the
supervisor or manager no longer has the final say.  They are no longer judge and jury.  If the
worker is not satisfied with the response of the supervisor, the worker can file a grievance.  
The first step of a grievance procedure is for the steward to accompany the worker to try to
work it out with the supervisor.  If the worker is not satisfied, the steward and the employee,
with help from the Union Business Manager, can bring the grievance to higher management.  
If the complaint is not resolved, then the issue can be placed before an outside neutral judge
called an arbitrator.

Q Management is hinting that we could lose the benefits
we now have. Is that true?

The purpose of forming a union is to win improvements in wages and benefits, not to lose
them.  We start with what we have and go up.  On average, unionized workers earn a third
more than non-union workers in wages and benefits.  Occasionally in organized facilities
workers agree to grant concessions to aid an ailing company, but this comes after years of
winning improvements. The employees vote on whether or not to accept a contract.  Would you
vote to accept a contract that took away your benefits?  Think about it.  If having a union meant
that the employer could reduce your benefits, why would the employer be fighting the union so
hard?  Besides, it is against the law for the employer to retaliate against the union by taking
away wages or benefits.

Q What about all those meetings we're having where
management talks about the union being bad and corrupt?

The employer would like you to think that unions are corrupt.  The truth is that unions are
decent, honest organizations dedicated to improving the lives of working people.  Nothing is
perfect, and there have been examples of union officials who have not been honest.  But the
same is true of government officials and business leaders.  There are a few bad apples in any
group of people. Telling you not to vote for a union because there have been some corrupt
officials is like telling you never to work for a company because a company official has been
corrupt.

Q The employer says the union can't guarantee us
anything. Can you?

The union can guarantee this: that when workers stick together as a union they have more
bargaining power and more of a voice than they do as individuals.  When the union wins, you
will negotiate a contract with the employer.  We can make no promises on what the contract
will contain.  That is for you to decide when you vote on your contract.  We can guarantee that
the contract will be legally binding, and the union will make sure the contract is enforced.

Q Management says the union is just after our dues
money. Why should we pay money to the union?

Dues are used to run your union and keep it strong.  The dues are divided between the local
union and the national union.  The money is used to provide expert services to your local
union, including negotiators, lawyers, economists, and educators; to pay the salaries of
officers and staff, including organizers; to provide newsletters and conferences.  The local
union's money is used for reimbursing stewards for lost time, for the union hall, and for other
expenses of your union.  Did you know that the employer also pays dues to organizations?  
Employers have their own ''unions" - such as the Chamber of Commerce or the National
Association of Manufacturers.  They pay for representation-why shouldn't you?  Besides, since
when is the company so concerned about your money?

Q How much are Union Dues?

The dues will depend upon what the local needs to operate efficiently and effectively.  
However, the dues will be set by you, as a local union, with the exception of the International
portion of the dues, which is set and voted by all Local Unions at the International Convention
every five (5) years.  However, no dues are paid until the majority of workers vote to accept a
contract they helped to negotiate.  All initiation fees will be waived for members in newly
organized units.

Q How do we go about getting a union here?

We've already taken the important first steps in forming a union.   We've formed a voluntary
organizing committee of which many of you are members.  This committee was formed to
investigate and to inform of the ways that a union may help us.   We've held meetings to inform
other employees as to what their rights are now and the rights they gain by forming a union.  
Now it's all up to us to vote Union and to ask others to vote for their future by VOTING UNION .

Q What does signing the card mean?

It means you want the union. The card is a commitment of support.   And, it gives us the legal
support for an open and free union election.  





Reference Sources: National Labor Relations Act The Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of
1959