What's a union?
A union is a group of workers who come together to bargain over important aspects of their employment like wages, benefits, and other working conditions. Unions allow staff to meet with management on a level playing field in order to make their workplace more fair and transparent. The right for unions to bargain is protected by US law, and employees who are in the process of forming a union are too.
How would a union benefit me?
Through a union, employees have far more power to make a difference than they would alone. Union members have seen vast improvements in a number of workplace issues including wages, health care, retirement benefits, parental leave, hours of work, health and safety, job security and more. Unions can also have a positive impact on the workplace by raising morale, lowering turnover, and improving efficiency by putting sensible, transparent policies in place.
How do I join or form a union?
If a large majority of co-workers show support by signing cards (or a petition), a request can be made to the National Labor Relations Board to conduct a secret ballot election. The election will officially determine whether or not a majority (50% plus one of those who vote) wants to have a union. Once the election is won, the law requires your employer to recognize your union and negotiate in good faith.
What goes into a union contract?
Bargaining unit members will work together with management to create a contract, or a collective bargaining agreement, that makes sense for their workplace. Alongside wages and benefits, our members have codified policies around diversity and inclusion, staff well-being, and professional development opportunities.
Who runs the union?
You do—unions consist solely of the eligible employees in your workplace. Once you’ve formed a union, bargaining unit members will elect employees who will work with management to resolve issues, propose workplace changes, and collaborate on other workplace issues. Unions are truly democracy at work.
What are my legal rights?
The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) gives employees the legal right to form a union and protects them from retaliation. You also have 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. 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. When workers organize with OPEIU they can depend on support and back up if needed.
How will my employer react?
Most employers, even good ones, feel threatened when they find out employees want to share some power. Most will try to convince you not to form a union by using a variety of tactics designed to create doubt. However, we know that workplaces are actually stronger and more effective with a union. When staff are given respect at work, a living wage, and clear pathways to career advancement, they’re able to focus their energy on their work and are less likely to leave for other opportunities.
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 your contract is voted on and approved by you. That way you can see the results first before paying any dues. Newly organized members also never pay any initiation fees, which also vary in amount by Local.
How are dues spent?
OPEIU is a nonprofit 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 union activists, push for laws to protect and expand workers’ rights on the job, keep members informed through newsletters, union publications and the website, and provide educational opportunities for union members.
What about Strikes?
Many people think that strikes happen frequently when you are in a union, and there are misconceptions about how strikes get started in the first place. In reality, strikes are rare. OPEIU settles over 99% of its contracts without ever going on strike. Also, there could only be a strike where you work if the vast majority of you and your colleagues voted to do so.
WHo is OPEIU?
Members of the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) are from various backgrounds including museums, higher education, banking, legal aid, hospitals, civil rights, insurance, social services, nursing homes, women’s health, transportation, and more. We work to empower our members to make positive change in their workplaces and in their communities. OPEIU is an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, with locals across the United States and Canada.
How Can You Get Started?
Questions about Local X? Ready to get started? Email us below and a member of our team will be in touch shortly.