A union is workers joining together to pursue policies and goals beneficial to one and all. Nothing more, nothing less. In other words, a union is you and your fellow workers, acting in concert to better your everyday working conditions.
A union is what gives the individual worker a voice in decisions and events that directly affect him or her in an undertaking that constitutes a major portion of life, that is, work.
A union allows workers a say in changing workplace conditions and solving workplace problems. With a union contract and grievance procedure to back them up, workers don’t have to suffer in silence or feel that their only option to unacceptable conditions is to quit their jobs.
As a worker, you have a right under federal law to form a union, select representatives of your choice and bargain collectively with your employer. This helps balance the power that employers have over individual employees.
Belonging to a union gives you rights under law that you do not have as an individual. Once you have formed a union, your employer must bargain with you over your wages, hours and working conditions.
Who runs the union?
The union leadership is elected in a strict democratic process. The officers are nominated and elected from among each individual local’s membership. Elections are held for officers in most local unions every three years.
It is important to note that as described above, every local union officer is a member. Every officer has worked under a collective bargaining agreement like every other member. All local union elected officials were selected to run the day to day business of the union because of their skills, commitment and ability to serve the membership.
Just as with any fraternal or social organization, it does cost you to belong to a union. When you join a local YMCA or YWCA or health spa, you generally pay an initiation fee and a membership fee. The same holds true when you join the Elks Club, or the Legion, or the Community Association, or the bowling league.
Cost, obviously, is relative. It’s relative to the services provided, to what you get for your money. How often have you made the statement, “I don’t mind paying the cost as long as I get my money’s worth?”
Cost is a valid concern, because we all work hard for our money and we want to be sure it is spent wisely and for some particular benefit to us.
That is why you should look at the cost of belonging to a union — your initiation fee (if applicable) and your monthly dues — as an investment. A very wise and very sound investment when you consider what you get for your money.
With IUOE you get a direct return on your investment because your dues go directly into providing services to you and your family.
Whether it’s bargaining a contract, handling a grievance or arbitration, negotiating a pension plan, providing advanced training, offering discount programs in such areas as credit cards and legal consultations, your dues money is being invested in your well-being today, for your progress and stability tomorrow.
And every cent of your money is strictly accounted for. Federal regulations require all unions to file an annual financial report with the Department of Labor. So you always know how your money is being spent. It’s a matter of public record.
Your dues are an investment — one that pays off handsomely.
CAN I BE FORCED TO GO ON STRIKE?
Can you be forced to go on strike? NO … NO … NO … A THOUSAND TIMES, NO!
Despite the propaganda you might get from anti-union forces, the fact is that strikes are the last resort in a union’s dealing with management. Only when management refuses to deal with the workers, or is so unfair in its dealings that the conditions it proposes are impossible to live with, only then do unions go on strike.
So NO, you can never be forced to go on strike. You determine, along with your fellow members, whether or not your union goes on strike.
Again contrary to popular propaganda, strikes by unions are fairly rare. What happens is that in those few instances that a strike does occur, it occupies the front page and lead story in the various media and the public is left with the impression that this is an everyday occurrence.
The fact is that in over 99 percent of contract dealings between IUOE and management, an agreement is reached at the bargaining table or through mediation or arbitration. All very peaceful, all without an interruption of work. And we’re talking about thousands of contracts being negotiated each year in the United States and Canada.
Strikes don’t happen often. And they only happen when the membership so votes.
To strike or not to strike is the members’ decision.
International Union of Operating Engineers Local 965