Organizing takes place when union “organizers” educate unrepresented workers to encourage them to join a union. The education phase can touch on workplace rights, wages, benefits and various other benefits of being a union member. A union organizer may visit unrepresented workers at their home or any other location outside the workplace to talk about the problems they face at work. The goal of a union organizer is to obtain a union contract between the employer and employee which ultimately provides for better working conditions.
There may be no better reason to join a union other than the fact that union members’ wages are 28% higher than non-union workers’ wages. It is not uncommon for non-union workers to earn $8 an hour, have no health insurance, and no pension. Public assistance programs funded by taxpayers make up for what employers should be paying, but are instead pocketing. Of course, corporations and private businesses have the fundamental right to make a profit….it is part of the American Dream. But some CEOs can earn 500 times the wages paid to their workers, and this greed is contributing to the demise of the middle class.
In 1935, the United States Government enacted the National Labor Relations Act which grants employees in the private sector the right to form labor organizations and bargain collectively without the interference of employers. There is no denying that there is power in numbers, and such strength gives an edge to employees when it comes to setting the terms and conditions of their employment.
Many non-union workers take for granted the rights and protections afforded to them by virtue of labor’s struggles in the past. The 8-hour work day and 5-day work week are key examples. Additionally, in the ten states in which unions are the strongest, there is less poverty, higher household income, more education spending, and better public policy than in the ten states in which unions are the weakest.
As a worker, you have a right under federal law to form a union, select representatives of your choice and bargain collectively with your employer. This helps balance the power that an employer has over his individual employees. Belonging to a union gives you rights under law that you do not have as an individual. Once you have formed a union, your employer must bargain with you over your wages, hours and working conditions.
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.
Some employers would rather not have to deal with a strong union when they can deal with a weak employee. To maintain control, the employer may hold captive audience meetings, threaten to close or move the workplace if workers vote to unionize, hire professional union busters to coordinate anti-union campaigns or even fire workers for engaging in union activity. Of course, there are certain actions employers can not take: