What is a union?

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A labor union is an organization formed by workers in a particular trade, industry, or company to improve their pay, benefits, and working conditions. The union represents the collective interests of the workers and allows them to engage in collective bargaining with their employers to create a contract that will protect the workers’ economic concerns and fair working conditions. Unions are federally recognized and protected under US labor law and have a long history of fighting for employee rights and protections. They have a democratic structure, with elected representatives from the workers negotiating with employers at the bargaining table. In 2022, the total union membership in the United States was 14.3 million.

What do unions do?

Labor unions play a crucial role in representing the collective interests of workers. They help negotiate contracts with employers to determine terms of employment, including pay, benefits, hours, leave, health and safety policies, and more, through a process known as collective bargaining. By bargaining for a fair labor contract, you and your coworkers are putting the weight of your collective workforce together to defend against any unfair treatment.

Unions have the duty to represent all employees fairly, in good faith, and without discrimination. This duty applies to everything a union may do, from collective bargaining to providing union representation when handling grievances with management (Weingarten Rights). Having a neutral third-party to help oversee things is a great tool to have and holds your employer accountable in crucial situations.

Learn more from The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)

Unions are still around?

Yes they are! Some people might think of decades past when they think of a union, but labor unions in the U.S. have been around since 1794 and are still going strong today. In fact, union membership has been on the rise in recent years, esepcially all across the arts sector as workers are choosing to unionize for things like better pay, more job security, and a stronger voice on the job. According to Gallup (a research and analytics firm), 67% of Americans approve of unions.

Some people might be worried that unions are illegal or will hurt their job somehow, but it’s actually the opposite! Your right to unionize and organize with your fellow workers is federally protected by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The best way you can protect your job is through a union — an employer might engage in foul play or against our best interests, but without a labor contract there’s no safety net to protect you.

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What is a wall-to-wall union?

Wall-to-wall means that all employees of a company are unionized under one union. Organizing wall-to-wall creates leverage to negotiate the strongest possible labor contract. When workers are divided by management, separate unions, or each other, they give management the power to use workers against each other. There is power in numbers together.