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.
Why Consider Joining a Union?
All unions were born out of necessity. During the Industrial Revolution, working men and women were treated very unfairly. It was standard practice for employers to demand that their employees work twelve hour days, seven days a week with little pay, no workmen's compensation, no health and safety laws and no benefits. Workers had nothing to look forward to - their lives were spent working, and they worked until they died.
A union isn't formed to fight the employer. A union is organized to make things easier and fairer for everyone.
Your contractor is busy. It takes time to run a business. The company has to be efficient and profitable and a company doesn't always have the time to address problems with individual employees.
With a union, there is a collective bargaining contract. It covers wages, hours and conditions of employment.
Our society is based on legal contracts. When you buy a house, car, insurance - any time you finance - you sign a contract.
As a non-union plumber, you are selling the best years of your life - hour by hour - day by day - on the installment plan without a contract! Your employer would never dream of performing work without a contract.
WHY WOULD YOU?
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.
Congress enacted the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA") in 1935 to protect the rights of employees and employers, to encourage collective bargaining, and to curtail certain private sector labor and management practices, which can harm the general welfare of workers, businesses and the U.S. economy.
National Labor Relations Act
Rights of Employees
Sec. 7. [§ 157.] Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection, and shall also have the right to refrain from any or all such activities except to the extent that such right may be affected by an agreement requiring membership in a labor organization as a condition of employment as authorized in section 8(a)(3) [section 158(a)(3) of this title].
Unfair Labor Practices
Sec. 8. [§ 158.] (a) [Unfair labor practices by employer] It shall be an unfair labor practice for an employer.
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 participation.
If you would like more information about becoming a member of UA Local 296 Plumbers and Pipefitters please contact: