Click on Unions 101 to find out!
What is a union? What do unions do? Why should you join a union? Do unions help or hurt businesses?
A union is an organization that is formed by workers in order to bargain collectively for better wages, benefits, and working conditions. Unions are democratic organizations. The members elect representatives and vote on important issues, like whether to accept or reject a contract proposal.
Unions provide representation during workplace disciplinary proceedings and assist members in resolving their issues with the employer. Even non-union workers benefit from the strength of local unions, as the improved wages and working conditions negotiated set the standard industry-wide.
As you know, unions are not a new thing. Here in the United States, unions have existed for well over 150 years. During the 20th century, they fought for the 8 hour day, the end to child labor, the creation of the weekend, and improved workplace health and safety standards. It was not a coincidence that the "middle class" in America did not exist until labor unions started negotiating more collective bargaining agreements in the 1940's and 1950's.
Since the late 1960's, union density in the United States has fallen from about 30% of the working population to about 12%. Opponents to unions like to use this to show that unions are no longer needed. However, we would like to note that as union membership has declined, several other things have occured as well:
1. CEO pay has skyrocketed
2. Corporate profits have reached record highs
3. The average American's income buys less today than it did in 1960.
4. Workplace safety has.