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  1. #1

    Default Labor Union Question

    At my place of employment, I'm on a small team of ~10 people, and we're the only team in the entire (massive) company that holds the official title that we hold. Only one of us is a member of the Union. Contract negotiations are coming up, and our one member has already submitted their interests for our title in the upcoming negotiations, but today the rest of us received a letter on our desk from the Union's local president that said, in a nutshell, the only way they're going to go to take us seriously is if we have 100% Union membership going into negotiations.

    To illustrate why this is a problem for my team, because of the neglect in representation on the existing contract, my team makes less money than the lower level teams that we support, despite us being considered higher level in terms of expertise and responsibilities.

    There's been a lot of bad blood going around, with Union reps discouraging people from applying for openings on my team because they don't intend to go to bat for us, etc.

    As I understand it, in a Right to Work state, Unions are required to represent all employees with equal consideration regardless of their status as a member; am I incorrect here?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Labor Union Question

    Fact: Unions voluntarily represent non-members. The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that the National Labor Relations Act allows unions to negotiate contracts covering only dues-paying members. As Justice Brennan wrote in Retail Clerks v. Dry Lion Goods (1962), “‘Members only’ contracts have long been recognized.”[3] Unions represent non-members only when they act as “exclusive bargaining representatives,” which requires non-members to accept the union’s representation. In that case, the law requires unions to represent non-members fairly. They cannot negotiate high wages for their supporters and the minimum wage for non-members. Unions can avoid representing non-members by disclaiming exclusive representative status.

    Right-to-Work Laws: Myth vs. Fact
    Don't hassle me, I'm local.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Labor Union Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Stew View Post
    Fact: Unions voluntarily represent non-members. The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that the National Labor Relations Act allows unions to negotiate contracts covering only dues-paying members. As Justice Brennan wrote in Retail Clerks v. Dry Lion Goods (1962), “‘Members only’ contracts have long been recognized.”[3] Unions represent non-members only when they act as “exclusive bargaining representatives,” which requires non-members to accept the union’s representation. In that case, the law requires unions to represent non-members fairly. They cannot negotiate high wages for their supporters and the minimum wage for non-members. Unions can avoid representing non-members by disclaiming exclusive representative status.

    Right-to-Work Laws: Myth vs. Fact
    What of the team member we have that is a dues paying member? Sharing the same title, any success or failure to represent the team affects members and non-members alike.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Labor Union Question

    Quote Originally Posted by White Peacock View Post
    What of the team member we have that is a dues paying member? Sharing the same title, any success or failure to represent the team affects members and non-members alike.
    You just described the problem with traditional industrial democracy in a RTW state. There's far more to the story than what's in that link to the rabidly anti-labor Heritage Foundation.

    Unless what you are describing as a "team" is a legally organized division of the company, one member of a labor union can't really do anything as far as representation with the labor union (except organizing the other employees). He can support it generally, but the power of the union comes only with bargaining status. Capital on one side of the table and labor on the other. That only happens after an NLRB monitored workplace election. In Oklahoma we have "open shops" because of the decision by capital to divide employees and codify that with the so-called "Right-To-Work" law. This means everyone must do exactly what capital asks of them - no questions asked, workplace rules, regulations, vacations, wages are all negotiated individually between single employee and the company. All employees sell their labor to capital, and all the expectations of loyalty are one-way. There is a tradition in Western countries that accepts a fundamental principle of the free market called "Industrial Democracy." This means when a union election is won by a majority vote of the laboring workplace, everyone is part of the union. The union represents the labor force (everyone) in bargaining negotiations. Along with that comes union dues for each "local" to be self-sustaining. That doesn't happen in RTW states in the USA.

    So much to say...White Peacock - send me a PM and give me the details and I'll be glad to answer your questions and help you all I can. You can feel free to not disclose your identity, company, etc. We can discuss your situation as it pertains to national labor laws as well as state laws in regards to the Open Shop here in Oklahoma.

    EDIT: This is what I get for skimming. I completely missed your mention of contract negotiations. So your company is already organized and only one employee on your team is an actual member of the union? I'll still be glad to help regarding the "team" relation to the company/union, etc.

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