UNIONIZING




WHY DO I NEED A UNION?

Under Ohio law unrepresented workers without the protection of a union contract are employees "at will". This means that except under very special circumstances an employer can discharge its workers with or without a reason, at any time. Workers can be terminated for a good reason, a bad reason, or for no reason at all. Employers can also set wage rates, benefit levels and work rules without any worker input or involvement. In other words, management can do or change just about anything it wants whenever it chooses. When workers form a union, however, their employer becomes obligated under Federal Law to negotiate wages, hours, and conditions of employment with the representative of the workers.

HOW DO I FORM A UNION WHERE I WORK?

You can contact Local 880’s Fair Wages and Benefits Department at 1-800-241-5930 to discuss unionizing your work site. We will be happy to talk to you about the specific problems that you are experiencing and what can be done to correct them. These conversations are strictly confidential and you are under no obligation of any kind to Local 880.

Because every unionizing drive is unique there is no standard procedure that is used in each campaign. If a group of workers decide to organize and become a part of Local 880, we will develop a program tailored to fit the needs of your workplace.

In order for a group of workers to gain union representation, a majority of those workers must authorize Local 880 to represent them. This is accomplished when workers sign union authorization cards. These authorization cards are kept confidential.

Once a majority of workers sign authorization cards, Local 880 will approach the employer to request that Local 880 be voluntarily recognized on the basis of the signed authorization cards--a "card check". If the employer agrees, an impartial third party, such as a clergyman or a judge, will be asked to compare the signatures on the cards against payroll record signatures to establish the union’s majority. The reason for using a third party is to protect the confidentiality of the cardsigners. The employer never sees the cards and never learns the identity of the card signers. If an employer refuses to recognize Local 880, we must file a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) asking this federal agency to hold a secret ballot election among the workers. In order to be entitled to an election, Local 880 must submit authorization cards signed by 30% or more of the workers along with the petition. The NLRB does not reveal the identity of the card signers. The purpose of showing the cards to the NLRB is to establish that a substantial number of workers are interested in having a union represent them.

Once a representation petition is filed with the NLRB, it usually takes a minimum of 45 days before an election is actually held. If a majority of the workers who vote in the secret ballot election cast their ballots in favor of the union, the NLRB will certify the union as the representative of the workers and the employer is then obligated to bargain with the union.

Once an election is certified, Local 880 sends a questionnaire to the workers to gain their input regarding the kind of a contract they would like to see negotiated. Contract proposals are then drafted and a meeting is scheduled to discuss those proposals with the workers before presenting them to the employer. Negotiations begin once the proposals are finalized. Negotiations for a first contract usually take a long time. Once a tentative agreement is reached, another meeting is held with the employees to present the tentative contract and to submit it to a secret ballot vote. The workers always vote by secret ballot on the terms of the tentative contract.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
about unions and organizing...

Q: “HOW DOES THE UNION WORK?”

A: A union is a democratic organization selected by a majority of the employees in a workplace. The basic idea of a union is that in unity there is strength. By joining together with fellow employees, workers are able to speak to their employer on a more equal footing and thereby to improve their wages, benefits and working conditions.

Q: “WHO RUNS THE UNION? THE COMPANY SAYS THAT THE UNION IS JUST A BUNCH OF OUTSIDERS - A THIRD PARTY.”

A: The members direct the officers of their union. They elect them in secret ballot elections every three years. They tell their union what they want in negotiations, often participate in negotiations, and have the ultimate veto power over any contract that is brought back to them for approval. The union is not “outsiders.” The union is the workers.

Q: “HOW MUCH ARE THE DUES AND WILL I HAVE TO PAY AN INITIATION FEE?”

A: The dues rates are not increased unless approved by the membership. In newly unionized workplaces, no dues are paid until workers vote to accept their first contract. All initiation fees are waived for members of newly organized shops.

Q: “WHERE DO UNION DUES GO?”

A: The union dues are divided between the International Union and the workers’ own local union, which has its own treasury. Dues are used to run the union and keep it strong. Dues pay the cost for contract negotiations, grievance arbitrations and unionizing.

Q: “WILL THE UNION MAKE US GO ON STRIKE?”
A: No one can force you to go out on strike. There can only be a strike at your workplace after a secret ballot vote. Over 95% of all union contracts are negotiated without a strike. Wise unions and workers only strike when they know they can win.

Q: “CAN I GET FIRED FOR HELPING THE UNION OR FOR ATTENDING A UNION MEETING?”

A: It is illegal for you to be fired, punished or harassed for expressing an interest in or supporting a union. The law protects your rights as a worker to join with your co-workers in an effort to improve your wages, benefits and working conditions.

Q: “DOES THE COMPANY HAVE TO NEGOTIATE IF THE UNION WINS?”

A: Yes. Federal law requires your employer to bargain “in good faith” with a union chosen by the workers.

Q: “IS IT EASY TO GET A UNION IN?”

A: No, it takes some hard work by key employees who are dedicated to helping their coworkers. And it takes the active support of a majority of the employees.

Q: “WILL THE OPERATION CLOSE IF WE VOTE TO JOIN LOCAL 880?”

A: It is illegal for an employer to threaten to close a business in order to avoid a union.

IF YOU HAVE ANY ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS, PLEASE CALL 1-800-241-5930 AND ASK FOR THE UNIONIZING DEPARTMENT