What is a Union?

A union is a professional organization that provides legal representation to workers. Workers have the legal right to join together and elect to be legally represented by a labor union at their place of work. The union provides legal and professional guidance to workers to help them secure a contract at the workplace.

Why Join a Union?

In the United States workers have two options: (1) At-Will Employment, or (2) Union Representation.

  1. At-Will Employment: Without a Union your employer can change any benefit or even fire you without justification. You are working at “the will” of your employer. The majority of workers operate under these conditions and have almost no rights under the law.
  2. Union Representation: A Union is the representative that can protect and enforce your rights at the job. Under the National Labor Relations Act employees who have joined a Union have the right to have a voice in almost every working condition of their job. The employer is generally prohibited by law to make any changes to your working conditions without first discussing and negotiating with you and the Union! With the help of a Union, workers negotiate a contract with their employer to ensure the conditions at work. A Union’s major goal is to give workers a voice on the job for respect, safety, security, better pay and benefits, and other improvements to working conditions.

Most workers are not aware of their rights to have such power at their job. However, once an employee understands the power of having Union representation, the choice is clear. No employee should be without legal representation and protection at the job.

How do Unions help working families today?

Health Insurance: Union workers earn 30% more than non-union workers and are more likely to receive health care and pension benefits than those without a union.

  • Wages: In 2007, median weekly earnings for full-time union wage and salary workers were $863, compared with $663 for their non-union counterparts.
  • Pension Benefits: 87% of workers in unions participate in pension plans versus 49% of non-union workers. 78% of union workers have guaranteed pensions, compared with 19% of non-union workers.
  • Paid Sick Leave: Roughly 83% of workers in unions have paid sick leave compared with 64% of non-union workers.
  • Legislative Action: Unions lead the fight today for better lives for working people, such as through expanded family and medical leave, improved safety and health protections and fair-trade agreements that lift the standard of living for workers all over the world.

Unions have made life better for all working Americans by helping to pass laws ending child labor, establishing the eight-hour day, protecting workers’ safety and health and helping create Social Security, unemployment insurance and the minimum wage. Unions are continuing the fight today to improve life for all working families in America.

When people are sick they go to a doctor. When people have problems with the law they hire a lawyer. When people have problems at the workplace they join a Union.