Can I get fired for union activity?

No. Federal law protects employee’s rights to form a union, making it illegal for them to be fired. That’s not to say that a company won’t try because they do. That’s where the union can protect you and take the necessary legal steps to fight for you. If you fill out an authorization card, to prove union activity, your case would be much better. Keep in mind that you can not conduct union activity on “working time”. That is illegal.

Do companies close due to unions?

Companies close for economic reasons and the vast majority of companies that close are non-union. Some companies, however, like to keep this myth alive. Half of employers illegally threaten workers who form a union by saying the plant will close. Studies have shown that unions help decrease employee turnover and can increase efficiency.

Don’t unions just want workers’ dues?

Unions are non-profit organizations and money that workers pay in dues goes back into running the organization. The improvements workers win in pay, benefits and fair treatment through their unions are far greater than the cost of dues. Dues levels are set by the union through a democratic process.

Can unions force workers out on strike?

No. Only the employees can authorize a strike, not the union representatives. Government statistics show that 97% of all contracts are negotiated annually without a strike. The union wants a contract, not a strike.

Do Unions mean more conflict in the workplace?

Unions can make the workplace a more harmonious place to work. A union contract allows the company and workers to sit down as equals and discuss problems as they come up. Without a union, workers’ lives are often in more turmoil because they have to deal with more favoritism and less economic security.

Unions used to be effective, but are they anymore?

Yes, unions are still by far the best way for working people to win economic security and have a voice on the job. The numbers tell the story: union members make 25% more in wages than workers who don’t have a union. Women and African-American workers with a union make 30% more, and that union difference rises to 45% for Latino workers. Union members are much more likely to have a pension plan and health care than workers without unions. Unions also reduce discrimination on the job, keep the workplace safe and give workers a much-needed voice.

Is it true that we could lose our benefits we have now if we unionize?

No! This is a common scare tactic used by companies to persuade workers to not form a union. If having a union meant the employer could reduce your benefits, why would they fight the union so hard? All employees in the union vote on whether or not to accept a contract. Would anyone vote to accept a contract that took away the benefits they have now? The purpose of forming a union is to win improvements, not lose them.

What can the union guarantee?

When workers stick together as a union, they have bargaining power and a collective voice that they simply do not have without a union. No guarantees can be made right now about the contract, because workers and union representatives have to negotiate a contract with the company.

When we win our election, will the company have to negotiate with us?

Yes. Federal law states the company must negotiate “in good faith”.

What is a union contract?

A union contract is a document that is binding by law, negotiated with the company that provides for wages, benefits, hours and working conditions.

Who draws up our contract?

You do. All the employees in the bargaining unit should contribute to the proposals. It is your contract and your input should be a priority. You don’t want anyone else determining what your contract should be.

Is there any limit to what we can ask for regarding wages and benefits?

No, but keep in mind that what you ask for should be reasonable and justified.

What is all this going to cost?

Until a contract is approved by majority vote, it will not cost one single cent! Thirty days after a contract is accepted, you begin paying union dues. At the time you vote on the contract, you will know not only what your dues will be, but also what improvements in wages and benefits we have negotiated in the contract. Then you decide if those increases in wages and benefits are worth the amount of union dues. The point to remember is no one pays a penny until you are working under the improved wages and benefits of a union contract.

Will we have to pay an initiation fee?

No. All present employees and those hired before a contract is accepted will not have to pay an initiation fee.

What happens to the dues money that is paid to the union?

A small part of the dues money goes to pay the wages of your union officials, organizers, business representatives and office staff. Another part goes to the international union to pay their administrative and staffing costs. The largest part goes to the local union to pay for offices, equipment, postage, legal fees, arbitration fees, office supplies, printing costs and transportation. The members have to approve every dollar spent and the union is required by law to account for all income and expenditures.

When do we become members?

After the negotiating committee and the union representatives have negotiated a contract with the employer, the Union calls a contract ratification meeting. At this meeting, the same group that voted in the NLRB election votes to accept or reject the contract. The Union cannot sign a contract until a majority votes to accept it. The employees make the decision because YOU are the union. When a majority votes to accept a contract, you can become members of SMART Local 46.