WHAT ARE UNIONS?
Unions are democracy
Your vote counts here. Unions embody the true spirit of democracy, where people with common interests can come together and effect real, meaningful change where it counts. In a time when many Americans feel their voice is drowned out by the money and influence of special interests, every American still has the chance to exercise real democracy where it matters most: Where we earn our livelihoods.
Many of the most immediate issues that impact our daily work and our quality of life are within the sphere of union activity. Important concerns like job security, wages, health insurance, and retirement are at the heart of achieving financial stability and improving one's quality of life, and union members get to have a say in these and much more.
The process is known as Collective Bargaining. Collective bargaining is when a group of workers negotiate their terms of employment with an employer through a union. These terms often include things like wages, benefits, hours, overtime, leave, health and safety, grievance procedures, and any other concerns that either side may wish to address. This negotiation results in a collective bargaining agreement, which serves as an enforceable labor contract between the union and the employer. Collective bargaining is a very effective way to solve — or prevent — workplace issues, and promote peace and productivity.
A collective bargaining agreement is like an insurance policy for your job — not very different than the insurance policy you buy for your house, car, life, etc.. And it's your job, after all, that provides for those things; why not have a contract — an insurance policy — that protects your employment, as well?
WHY JOIN A UNION?
We all have a stake in the economy and in the future. And most working people share the same basic concerns: they want job security; a voice in their workplace — deciding their wages, hours, and benefits; they want safe working conditions; and they want to be treated with dignity. Working people want straight talk — about terms and conditions, and about the future — so they can make decisions about their own employment. Workers deserve a way to speak up for their common interests, negotiate the terms of their employment, and, when necessary, to have a fair system for resolving problems.
[In other words, American workers expect the principles and values of democracy to carry through into their workplaces, not be placed on hold between 9 and 5.]
Workers must always strike a balance between earning a fair wage and ensuring their employer remains profitable; between keeping their jobs and protecting their fringe benefits. But very often today's corporate executives earn many times more than their workers, top management receives bonuses for laying off workers, and companies announce record profits after cutting jobs or reducing employee wages. And what workers want most of all is mutual trust and respect, clear terms and conditions of employment, and a fair share of the prosperity they help create. In short, they want the chance to make the American Dream a reality.
Working people don’t always have the voice they need in their workplace or the tools necessary to resolve these issues alone. That’s why unions matter. That’s where we come in.
WHAT UNIONS OFFER
Union members enjoy wages and benefits that surpass industry standards. Salary surveys demonstrate that union workers earn substantially more than their non-union peers (up to 30% more). And, with the experience of USWU’s representatives, you are sure to make impressive gains at the negotiating table.
Median Weekly Earnings of Union vs Non-Union Full-Time Wage and Salary Workers
Union members consistently have better benefits than non-union workers. Union membership can provide you with additional benefits that will protect you and your family and enhance your quality of life.
Employee Benefit Access Percentages in the US, Union vs Non-Union
A union contract will provide you with a forum in which you can dispute company practices that adversely affect your job. Should a problem arise, your union will help you to resolve it fairly.
Better Working Conditions
USWU members are guaranteed to have a say in their working conditions. The terms and conditions of your job will be clearly defined in your collective bargaining agreement.
Fairness on the Job
Are you always treated with the respect you deserve? Is the distribution of work always equal? Can you afford to be at the whim of your manager? If you answered “no” to any of these questions, a contract with USWU can improve your position.
A union contract will defend you against unfair layoffs or discharges. USWU will be there to represent your interests in any situation in which your contract is being violated. This gives you the security of knowing that your job is protected. As a non-union worker, under the law you were an "at will" employee, which means you may be fired any time the employer chooses, without justified cause. With a union contract, your job is safe and you are protected from unfair termination.
HOW EVERYONE BENEFITS
The workers and the company share one very important thing in common: The success of the company.
Without a reliable, competent, and productive workforce, the company cannot thrive. Without a thriving company, there are no jobs or wages for the workers.
Everyone wants their company to succeed; a good company brings jobs, goods or services, revenues, and pride to a community. But workers are more than just employees:
Workers are also members of the communities in which the company is located
Workers, not company owners, are the real "job creators" of our economy, creating the demand for goods and services that allows the company to exist
Workers and their families and friends are the consumers of the very goods and services the company provides, spending their hard-earned dollars on the products that profit the company.
When workers have job security, a fair wage, healthcare, a secure future, etc. they have an investment in the success of their employer because it’s their future as well.
When employers and workers realize that what they have in common — the success of the company — is most important, they can come together and negotiate an agreement that best benefits everyone.
For more information or to speak to a USWU representative, please contact our office at:
United Service Workers Union
138-50 Queens Boulevard
Briarwood, NY 11435
Tel: (718) 658-4848
Fax: (718) 523-5722