Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q: How does a union work?

A: A union is a democratic organization composed of a majority of employees at a facility who have chosen to become organized. The concept of unionization is both simple and proven. Workers who join together have a greater opportunity to enhance their wages, benefits and their working conditions. The root meaning of union is "together" or "unity". In unity lies strength and ability. Strength both in numbers and in common goals will provide positive results! One of the basic reasons to form a union is to utilize the "Collective Bargaining Process". Unity provides the tool, think of it as leverage, to get with the Collective Bargaining Process what you cannot get otherwise.

The primary purpose of a union is to represent workers in their employment, to negotiate a contract that improves wages, benefits, working conditions and to protect workers from unfair treatment. The issues important to you and your co-workers are the issues that will shape and form the collective bargaining agreement. At the close of negotiations the tentative contract is offered to the workers for their approval or rejection. This tentative contract can only take effect if it is ratified by the workers at your facility. Therefore, you and your co-workers determine what happens, NO ONE ELSE!

Q: Who runs the union?

A: The union leadership is elected in a strict democratic process. The officers are nominated and elected from among Local 181's own membership. Elections are held for Local 181 officers every three years. The current slate of officers is listed on this web site. Click this link: Elected Officers to go there now. (Link to Local 181 Officers Page)

It is important to note that as described above, Local 181's officers are members. Every officer has worked under a collective bargaining agreement like every other member. The shoes they put on each morning are those of working people just like you. Local 181's elected officials were selected to run the day to day business of this union because of their skills, commitment and ability to serve the membership.

Q: Do members pay dues?

A: Of course. Membership in Local 181, like membership in any other organization, comes with the obligation to pay periodic dues. These dues are set by a vote of the membership. The dues help pay for the costs of representing workers interests, collective bargaining and the business administration of the union.

However, consider that the dues you pay for union representation are substantially more than offset by the gains in wages alone! According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average difference between union pay vs. non-union pay for the same occupation is $154.00 per week or $7,392.00 per year. Even after allowing for the cost of union dues it pays to be union.

Q: How often will we be forced to strike?

A: Your facility will never be forced to strike. Local 181 is a democratic organization and unless a majority of your co-workers vote to strike no one can force anything! Consider the following information:

Fact: Strikes are very uncommon today. Statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor reveal that 98% of all labor agreements are reached without a strike.

Q: Why do strikes occur?

A: Strikes usually happen when employers are unwilling to meet realistic proposals made during contract negotiations. In deciding the question of a strike.... is always the workers who make that choice!

Management knows that if they bargain reasonably the chance of a strike is zero. On the other hand management knows that if they do not negotiate fairly and equitability the workers may vote to strike. This threat is important. Without it there is no true collective bargaining. Don't forget the information from the U.S. Dept. of Labor that 98% of all labor agreements are reached without a strike.

Q: Can I be fired for participating in the union campaign?

A: The law prohibits the employer from discriminating against workers involved in union activity, especially during an organizing campaign. However, the question really becomes "Will my employer break the law and discipline, even fire me because of my union involvement? If the answer is yes what does that say about your employer? One of the core elements of Unionization is that of ..."Mutual Aid Or Protection"... It is your right to work toward and vote for unionization. Now the question becomes will I allow myself to be intimidated? Only you have that answer. In the case of illegal actions by your employer Local 181 will fight for your rights. Local 181 will, with your cooperation, file charges against the offending employer with the NLRB without cost to you. Local 181 will use all its resources, including labor attorneys, to build your case against the offending employer with the goal of restoration of your job including all back wages and benefits. Further we will demand that the company stop their illegal and intimidating acts. If necessary, Local 181 will file an injunction against the company that will bring punitive damages.

Q: The company says the union can't guarantee us anything?

A: Local 181 will guarantee that workers who organize have bargaining power! When elected, Local 181 will form a Negotiating Committee. One or more of your co-workers will be a member this committee and attend every planning & negotiating session that takes place. Local 181 can guarantee that the U.S. Dept. of Labor statistics showing union employees making $154.00 per week or $7,392.00 per year more than their non-union counterpart is proof positive of what unionization and collective bargaining can do for you.

Q: The boss says we could lose the benefits we now have. Is that true?

A: The truth is without a legally binding contract the benefits and pay you now receive can be taken away in the blink of an eye. Not only does unionization mean higher wages and benefits; unionization means that for the duration of the contract the company must meet it's obligations which are spelled out in the collective bargaining agreement. Should the company fail in its obligation the contract is legally enforceable.

Q: The boss says what we gain in one area we will lose in another area. Is that true?

A: Absolutely not! This is the old "Pie" argument that so many employers like to use. They claim the "Pie" is just so big and if you take a bigger slice in one place, like for higher wages, that makes the slice in another place, like for retirement smaller. Through the collective bargaining process we are able to ..."Make The Pie Bigger". The extra money comes from the companies deep pockets, they definitely don't like it but with collective bargaining the workers................"Pie Gets Bigger"!

Q: How do we go about getting a union at my workplace?

A: A good first step is to contact one of Local 181's District Offices listed below for assistance. Tell us the reasons that make you want a union workplace.

The next step is to talk to trusted co-workers about unionizing. Tell them why you want a union and find out their level of interest in the same.

The next step is to form an "Organizing Committee". Initially the committees' job will be to attend meetings arranged by Local 181 Organizers. It is the job and purpose of all committee members to educate themselves about unionization at these meetings. Only then can the committee members (A) carry that information to their coworkers and (B) refute false information by management and and company brown nosers.

Then comes the time to demonstrate the necessary "Showing of Interest". The technical part of this was discussed earlier."A" cards are the most common method of demonstrating support. For reasons too numerous to explain here Local 181 looks to achieve a 70% level of support before filing for an election. It is critical to understand that our ultimate goal is to be successful, i.e. to win this election. From years of experience Local 181 Organizers know that when 70% of the workers sign A cards, we have the margin of support required to win!

With the above noted strong showing of majority support Local 181 will file a petition for election with the NLRB. Depending upon several factors the settling of questions about the bargaining unit, etc. generally takes from a couple of days to a couple of weeks. Once those issues are resolved an election date is set, usually 5 to 7 weeks out.

The time period between the filing of the petition and the election is critical. This is the period in which "anti-union" companies turn up the pressure on their own employees. They will force employees to attend "Anti-Union" meetings geared at confusing and misinforming their own workers. In these meetings "Anti-Union companies twist and distort union goals and unionization. As noted in an earlier passage the "Anti-Union" campaign put forward by the company will contain an element of truth mixed with lies, misinformation, deception, intimidation and most of all, fear. Local 181 Organizers will not be allowed to attend these meetings. The company knows we can expose their lies and deceptions and they will not allow us that opportunity. It is at this time that your personal knowledge gained during organizing meetings becomes the difference in success in your efforts to unionize.

Q: What does signing the "A" card do other than get us to an election?

A: Simply getting to an election is not what your hard work and our hard work is about. Winning the election is what we are about! Therefore, Signing the "A" card is a commitment to Local 181. It means that you support unionization at your work place. It means that you want Local 181 to represent you for the purpose of collective bargaining. It means that you are strong enough and committed enough to resist the lies, misinformation, deception and intimidation your employer will offer. It means that by signing the "A" Card you are going to vote to support the union.

If you cannot make that commitment then... "PLEASE DON'T SIGN THE "A" CARD"!

Contact a Local 181 District Office closest to where you live for more information.