what is a union?

A union is an organized group of workers who collectively use their strength to have a voice in their workplace. Through a union, workers have a right to impact wages, work hours, benefits, workplace health and safety, job training and other work-related issues. Under U.S. law, workers of all ages have the right to join a union. Having support from the union to ensure fairness and respect in the workplace is one of the key reasons workers organize.

All of the benefits and protections workers enjoy today came about as a result of the organized labor movement in this country. These include the minimum wage, social security payments, an eight hour day and weekends, overtime pay, the American with Disabilities Act and the Occupational Safety and Health Act which requires employers to meet safety standards for their workers

Why do I need a union?

Primarily, to have a voice on the job. Unless workers are organized, management is free to exploit workers. Union members also earn better wages and benefits than workers who aren’t represented by a union. On average, union workers’ wages are 30 percent higher than their nonunion counterparts. While only 14 percent of nonunion workers have guaranteed pensions, fully 68 percent of union workers do. More than 97 percent of union workers have jobs that provide health insurance benefits, but only 85 percent of nonunion workers do. Unions help employers create a more stable, productive workforce—where workers have a say in improving their jobs.

How do people form a union?

When workers decide to come together to improve their jobs, they work with a union. Once a majority of workers shows they want a union, sometimes employers honor the workers’ choice. If the workers win union representation, they negotiate a contract with the employer that spells out each party’s rights and responsibilities in the workplace.

What kinds of workers are forming unions today?

A wider range of people than ever before, including many women and immigrants, are joining unions— security officers, doctors and nurses, poultry workers and graduate employees, home health care aides and wireless communications workers, auto parts workers and engineers, to name a few.

What have unions accomplished for all workers?
Unions have made life better for all working Americans by passing laws ending child labor, establishing the eight-hour day, protecting workers’ safety and health and helping create Social Security, unemployment insurance and the minimum wage, for example. The Labor Movement is continuing the fight today to improve life for all working families in America. 

What challenges do workers face today when they want to form unions?

Today, millions of workers want to join unions. Wise employers understand that when workers form unions, their companies also benefit. But the law is so weak that most employers to fight workers’ efforts to come together by intimidating, harassing and threatening them. In response, workers and their unions build coalitions with community clergy, and politicians to help them exercise their freedom and right to form a Union.

How do I form a union where I work ?

Here are three steps to get you started: link