Myths & Truths about being a union worker & why you should become a UA member.
Myth - “If I joined the union I’d just be put on the unemployed list and be out of work”
Truth - Over the past 12 years Local 704 has maintained a 97% employment rate for our members.
Myth - “Why should I join the union? I’m learning as I go and they pay me X amount an hour”.
Truth - Local 704 has a certified 5 year apprentice training program and an ongoing journeyman upgrade (training) program available, you will know your job much better after availing yourself to these programs. Our apprentices receive regular raises and we have a contract with our contractors on what our pay rate will be.
Myth - “You pay union dues, because I’m non-union I don’t have to and I make a good living”
Truth - You are correct about the union dues we as union workers pay, these dues are used to fund our Local & the International union. One only needs to look a little deeper to see the benefits from the dues paid - Training, Job Safety, Collective Bargaining, Access to jobs throughout North America - just to name a few.
You only need to compare your wage to our pay scale to see what a “good living” really is.
Myth - “… we get our perks, our boss gives us a loan anytime we need one.
Truth - If you got paid union scale for the work you do maybe you wouldn't need to "hit the boss up for a loan".
What is Organizing?
The common term for a group of workers looking to join a union is
“Organizing.” Workers organize for various reasons, be it to improve
their working conditions, increase their pay or benefits, and/or to
create a better working environment. We encourage you to read more about
us to see if joining our union is right for you and/or your coworkers.
The American Promise is that if we go to school, work hard, and become a
productive and faithful employee, we can then expect to support a
family, raise and educate our children, enjoy a healthy and fulfilling
life and retire with dignity. We weren’t supposed to have to win the
lottery, or be a corporate executive to enjoy the American dream.
That was the vision of middle class Americans, who once modeled the
image of what it was to be an American. The middle class is disappearing
in direct proportion to the demise of the American union movement.
After World War II, nearly 30 percent of our work force belonged to
unions. Today, barely half that are organized. Today, a few own the
world’s resources while most live in poverty.
Wages of $10-$12 per hour are common. For most of these workers there
is no health insurance or retirement plans. The result? Taxpayers
across the United States are making up for what employers should be
paying with public assistance programs. That’s corporate welfare.
Why are wages so low? Because that’s the easiest way to increase
profitability. The result? Today, the wealthiest one percent own as much
of our nation as ninety percent of the rest of us. Corporate CEO’s can
earn 500 times the wages paid their workers.
The freedom to form unions is a basic human right. In 1935, the US
Government enacted the National Labor Relations Act that said,
“Employees shall have the right to form…labor organizations…to bargain
collectively…(and employers may not) interfere with…the exercise of…this
right.” In 1948, the US joined four-fifths of United Nations member
states to ratify the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which
included the right of all people to come together in unions.
Workers form unions because there is power in numbers. Where unions are
strong, employers must bargain collectively to set the terms and
conditions of employment. The demand for profits must then be
compromised with fairness toward workers.
How Employers Prevent Unions?
When American workers seek to exercise the right to form a union, they
nearly always run into a buzz saw of employer threats, intimidation and
coercion such as:
• Captive audience meetings
• One-on-one meetings with supervisors
• Threats to close or move the workplace if workers vote to unionize
• Hiring professional consultants (union-busters) to coordinate anti-worker campaigns
• Firing workers for union activity
According to Human Rights Watch, the treatment of workers by employers
and the failure of the US government to prevent it constitute a serious
violation of human rights. Their report says, “Many workers…are spied
on, harassed, pressured, threatened, suspended, fired, deported or
otherwise victimized in reprisal for their exercise of the right to
choose a union.”
The consequences have been devastation for all of American society. When
collective bargaining is suppressed, wages lag, inequality and poverty
grow, race and gender pay gaps widen, society’s safety net is strained
and civic and political participation are undermined.
What Have Unions Done for Us?
5-day work week
Family and medical leave
Fair treatment for women, people of all ethnic backgrounds, and those with disabilities
Union members earn 28 percent more than nonunion workers. But stronger
unions raise living standards and improve the quality of life for
everyone. In the 10 states in which unions are the strongest, there is
less poverty, higher household income, more education spending, and
better public policy than in the 10 states where unions are weakest.
Unions Encourage Democracy:
Unions encourage voting and other forms of political participation by
members and other social groups with common interests. Political
Scientist Benjamin Radcliff has estimated that for every 1 percent
decline in union membership there is a 0.4 percent decline in voter
35 Things Your Employer Cannot Do:
1. Attend any union meeting, park across the street from the hall or
engage in any undercover activity which would indicate that the
employees are being kept under surveillance to determine who is and who
is not participating in the union program.
2. Tell employees that the company will fire or punish them if they engage in union activity.
3. Lay off, discharge, discipline any employee for union activity.
4. Grant employees wage increases, special concessions or benefits in order to keep the union out.
5. Bar employee-union representatives from soliciting employees’
memberships on or off the company property during non-waking hours.
6. Ask employees about union matters, meetings, etc. (Some employees
may, of their own accord, walk up and tell of such matters. It is not an
unfair labor practice to listen, but to ask questions to obtain
additional information is illegal).
7. Ask employees what they think about the union or a union representative once the employee refuses to discuss it.
8. Ask employees how they intend to vote.
9. Threaten employees with reprisal for participating in union
activities. For example, threaten to move the plant or close the
business, curtail operations or reduce employees’ benefits.
10. Promise benefits to employees if they reject the union.
11. Give financial support or other assistance to a union.
12. Announce that the company will not deal with the union.
13. Threaten to close, in fact close, or move plant in order to avoid dealing with a union.
14. Ask employees whether or not they belong to a union, or have signed up for union representation.
15. Ask an employee, during the hiring interview, about his affiliation with a labor organization or how he feels about unions.
16. Make anti-union statements or act in a way that might show preference for a non-union man.
17. Make distinctions between union and non-union employees when signing overtime work or desirable work.
18. Purposely team up non-union men and keep them apart from those supporting the union.
19. Transfer workers on the basis of union affiliations or activities.
20. Choose employees to be laid off in order to weaken the union’s strength or discourage membership in the union.
21. Discriminate against union people when disciplining employees.
22. By nature of work assignments, create conditions intended to get rid of an employee because of his union activity.
23. Fail to grant a scheduled benefit or wage increase because of union activity.
24. Deviate from company policy for the purpose of getting rid of a union supporter.
25. Take action that adversely affects an employee’s job or pay rate because of union activity.
26. Threaten workers or coerce them in an attempt to influence their vote.
27. Threaten a union member through a third party.
28. Promise employees a reward or future benefit if they decide “no union”.
29. Tell employees overtime work (and premium pay) will be discontinued if the plant is unionized.
30. Say unionization will force the company to lay off employees.
31. Say unionization will do away with vacations or other benefits and privileges presently in effect.
32. Promise employees promotions, raises or other benefits if they get out of the union or refrain from joining the union.
33. Start a petition or circular against the union or encourage or take part in its circulation if started by employees.
34. Urge employees to try to induce others to oppose the union or keep out of it.
35. Visit the homes of employees to urge them to reject the union.