What's a union? A union is simply an employee organization - protected by law - where a group of workers joins together to improve and guarantee their wages, benefits and working conditions. A union also gives employees a way to achieve respect and fairness on the job and a stronger voice to impact employer decisions. Without a union, employers have 100% control.
How would a union benefit me? When employees join together to form a union, they can pull together their various ideas and concerns in a unified voice with far more power than speaking alone. By joining with OPEIU, you will enjoy the protection of a legally binding contract, negotiated and voted on by you and your co-workers. As a union member you gain the right to negotiate with your employer as an equal and bargain over your wages, benefits, retirement, employer policies, schedules, hours of work, health and safety, job security and many other important workplace issues. There’s no doubt union workers fare better in the work world. Click here to see the difference between a unionized workplace vs. a non-unionized workplace.
How do I join a union? If a large majority of coworkers show support by signing cards (or a petition), a request can be made to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to conduct a secret ballot election. The public sector uses a similar process. The election will officially determine whether or not a majority (50% plus one of those who vote) wants to have a union. If the union wins the election, the law requires that your employer recognize your union and negotiate in good faith. There are other creative ways to put pressure on your employer to recognize your union. A government-supervised election is just one alternative. Click here to contact Local 2 for assistance.
Is there a risk insupporting a union? It is against the law for your employer to ask you about your union activity or to threaten, harass, fire, discipline or discriminate against you because of union activity. The National Labor Relations Act protects workers trying to form a union. When workers organize with OPEIU they can depend on support and back up if needed. Click here for What are my legal rights?
Can I talk about the union at work? The law gives you the right to talk about the union at work when other non-work related talk is allowed or during non-work times such as breaks, meal times or before or after work.
What about strikes? Employers love to scare employees who are thinking of forming a union with strike-talk. In reality, strikes are rare. OPEIU settles more than 99% of its contracts without going on strike. Additionally, there can only be a strike where you work if the vast majority of your bargaining unit voted to do so. OPEIU union leaders can’t “call a strike” - nor can union members from other workplaces. Only you and your coworkers can make that decision for yourselves.
What will my employer do? Most employers, even good ones, feel threatened when they find out employees want to share some power and control. Most will try to convince you not to form a union by using a variety of tactics designed to create doubt. However, workers successfully form unions all the time. The key is to stay united and focus on the reasons you wanted a union in the first place. Click here for What will my employer do?
How much are dues? The members at each OPEIU local union or guild decide on a dues rate for their organization. New members don’t pay any dues until their contract is voted upon and approved - that way members can see the results first before paying any dues. Newly-organized members also never pay initiation fees, which vary by Local.
How are dues spent? OPEIU is a non-profit employee organization that operates almost solely from member dues. Dues are used to:
negotiate strong contracts
defend members and enforce contract rights
organize new members to improve bargaining strength in existing workplaces and to improve standards in a particular industry
train and support shop stewards and other union activists
push for laws to protect and expand workers’ rights on the job
keep members informed through newsletters, union publications and the website
provide educational opportunities for union members
Who runs the union? The members. Once you become a member, you and your coworkers run your union: You all elect your own negotiating committee and decide on contract priorities. You and your coworkers will also elect officers and leaders at the local and national levels.
Why form a union with Local 2? Office and Professional Employees International Union was chartered in 1945 and with over 125,000 members strong, we’re one of the larger unions of the AFL-CIO. OPEIU members work in many settings as varied as banking and credit unions, insurance, higher education, shipping, hospitals, nursing homes, medical clinics, social services, utilities, transportation, manufacturing, hotels, offices and more.
How do I contact Local 2 to discuss starting a union where I work? Email Organizing Committee Chair Michael Spiller: firstname.lastname@example.org. Let him know where you are in the process: Maybe you're just starting to consider it. Maybe you need some help organizing your coworkers. Send Michael an email and let him know how Local 2 can support you.