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 an employer has over his 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.
The Union Advantage
|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 co-employees to form a union, workers have a greater ability through their strength in numbers to improve conditions at the worksite. In other words, “In unity there is strength.”
The primary purpose of the union is to represent workers in their employment and to negotiate a contract that improves wages, benefits and working conditions and protects workers from unfair treatment. The basis of the contract negotiated with the employer is determined by the workers affected by the proposed contract. After the contract is negotiated, it can only take effect if it is voted on and ratified (approved) by the workers.
Officers are nominated and elected from among the members of a local union. Any member who meets the qualifications for office may be nominated and elected to office within a local union. Elections are held in the United States every three years in Operating Engineer local unions.
Membership in the Operating Engineers, like membership in any other organization, comes with the obligation to pay periodic dues. These dues are set by a vote of the membership. The dues help pay for the costs of representing workers’ interests and collective bargaining.
It really doesn’t cost to belong to a union- it pays. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the difference between union and non-union pay is $154.00 per week. That is a difference of $7,392 per year.
When Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act, it guaranteed workers the right to join unions and the legal right to strike. Without these rights, we’d be working for slave wages, as they do in countries where there are no unions and no freedoms.
Strikes are very uncommon today. The U.S. Department of Labor statistics show that only one work day out of a thousand is lost due to a strike. In the latest year for which statistics are available, only 5% of all union members were involved in a strike. Ninety-eight (98%) percent of all labor agreements are reached without a strike.
However, strikes are sometimes necessary. When all else fails, employees will sometimes have to strike to win their contract needs. This usually happens when employers are unreasonable and need to be shown how valuable the contribution of workers really is. The right to strike is a potent weapon in the right to gain a fair contract. The exercise of that precious right is entirely up to the members affected by the contract. But without a credible threat to strike, the employer holds all the power and bargaining would be reduced to collective begging. Almost all contract settlements are reached without workers resorting to strikes.