Through collective bargaining, unions have raised the standard of living for millions of American workers. There is a real economic advantage in belonging to a union and working under a union contract.
Union workers earn significantly more money than workers who have no union representation. In 1994, the average union worker earned $556 per week, compared to just $427 per week for the average non-union worker – the union advantage is $129 or 30% each week!
Doesn’t your family deserve more economic security and better pay for the hard work you do?
With union representation, you are more likely to retire with security and dignity. Ninety percent of full-time union workers participate in at least one retirement plan, compared to only 74% of non-represented workers. Union workers are far more likely to participate in traditional defined-benefit plans – 86% of union members versus only 50% of non-union workers. Such plans are almost always financed entirely by the employer, and the retirement benefits are guaranteed by the federal government.
Among union workers, 81% have defined-benefit pension plans that are wholly financed by the employer. In non-union work sites, only 48% of workers have defined-benefit retirement plans that are financed by the employer.
Unions have pioneered the provision of health care as an employee benefit. Virtually all union contracts provide health care coverage, often paid for entirely by the employer. Sadly, nearly 40 million Americans have no health insurance. Most of these millions are children of employed workers, including the workers who serve our food in restaurants and take care of us in hospitals.
Among union workers, 52% have medical coverage that is wholly paid by the employer. In non-union workplaces, only 18% have such coverage. With dental care, union members also have a significant advantage. In union work sites, 49% of workers have family dental coverage that is financed wholly by the employer. Among non-union workers, only 19% have employer-paid dental coverage.
Sickness and accident benefits provide needed income to working families in the event of non-work-related sickness and injury. Among union workers, 71% are covered by sickness and accident insurance; in non-union work sites, only 36% have economic security during times of illness and injury.
A Right to Health and Safety on the Job
Work can be hazardous to your health. Far too many American workers are killed, injured, and exposed to diseases on the job. Working under a union contract can improve your ability to monitor your work environment and ensure that health and safety concerns are addressed.
Belonging to a union gives you rights under federal law that you do not have as an individual. Union representation provides you with the tools you need to deal with your employer from a position of strength. Belonging to a union allows you to establish a written agreement that specifies the terms of your employment. Once you have formed a union, the door to the power of collective bargaining is open. Your employer is required by law to bargain with you over your wages, hours, and working conditions.
Without union representation, an individual worker has no voice in his/her terms of employment and is subject to arbitrary decisions made by the employer. With union representation, you have a voice in your future.
Under the TCU constitution, members vote on contracts that are negotiated by the union. A majority of members must support a tentative agreement in order for that contract to become effective. This gives rank and file workers the ultimate authority to decide the terms and conditions of their employment. Contract negotiation and ratification is TCU’s proven method of checks and balances, ensuring that the desires and expectations of the TCU members are achieved.
Union contracts can specify job classification systems that require employers to "post" job openings and allow workers to "bid" on those jobs. The result is that union members are able to obtain better jobs at the workplace. With job posting, workers know which jobs are available and which skills are needed for those jobs. Under union contracts, the most senior employee who has the necessary skills is generally entitled to the job. This prevents favoritism and discrimination in the awarding of jobs.
Without a union contract, an employer is free to give the best jobs to anyone he pleases.
In times of high unemployment and uncertain economic conditions, the right to retain your job is critical to you and your family. It is important to know that you can’t be fired without just cause and can’t be laid off merely to make room for the boss’ favorite nephew.
Most union contracts establish strict rules about job security and the conditions under which layoffs or reductions in the workforce take place. This ensures that everyone is treated fairly and that no one is discriminated against for speaking his/her mind on the job or for enforcing the terms of the contract.
Without the protection of a union contract, you are at the mercy of the employer. If you act collectively, you gain the power and the LEGAL RIGHT to change that.
Yes, millions of workers and their families make up the American Labor Movement. Union members have been able to make the lives of their families fuller and happier, while making their jobs more secure. They have built a better America in the process. You and your colleagues too can bring about significant improvements through union membership.
Your Right to Organize
Your right to organize is guaranteed by Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, which states in part that "employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection…."
Some employers, in violation of the law, attempt to deny to employees their right to organize and join a union. Any violation of the law should be reported to the organizing committee as soon as possible. Prompt legal action will be taken on your behalf.