Frequently Asked Questions
If we vote to join the union, does the company have to bargain a contract with the union?
The company is required by law to bargain “in good faith.” What that means is under the law, there are certain subjects the company must bargain over, and these are called mandatory subjects of bargaining.
What are mandatory subjects of bargaining?
These subjects have been defined over the years to include: wages and fringe benefits, grievance procedures, arbitration, health and safety, non-discriminatory clauses, no-strike clauses, length of contract, management rights, discipline, seniority, and union security.
When do I have to start paying union dues?
You do not pay a single penny in Union dues until after the company and your Union have completed bargaining a contract that you the members ratify in a secret ballot vote. When we accomplish this goal together, you would start paying dues the month after the contract is ratified.
Your dues rate is two and one-half times your hourly wage plus an additional $6.00 that is split up between the Local Union’s strike and organizing funds.
Can the Union make employees go out on strike if they do not want to?
Teamsters Local 174 would not force our members out on strike for one important reason: you cannot win a strike if the members do not want to strike. It’s that simple! Logic dictates that if all of the members who are supposed to be on strike cross the picket line, then the strike would not be very successful.
Our Local Union has a strike fund that pays out $300.00 a week in strike benefits on top of the strike benefits of four times your dues rate from the International Union. In most cases that ends up being over $500.00 a week in strike benefits.
Will the company lose work because “union rules” prohibit employees from servicing the customer?
This is false. Even if you are a Union member, you must work as directed unless the company is asking you to do something illegal or unsafe. If our members believe they are being asked to do something that is not in line with their contract, they must comply and then file a grievance. It would make no sense for us as a Union to negotiate work rules that would bankrupt a business, just as it would make no sense for a business to agree to rules that would bankrupt them.
How democratic are Unions?
The whole process is open and democratic. You decide if you want to sign an authorization card. You decide whether to vote “yes” on joining the Union. You decide which coworkers you want on your negotiating team. You decide what to tell your negotiators that you want in a contact. You vote on the contract once it’s negotiated. You vote on who will be your whop steward. You vote on who will be the Officers of your Local.
What does the “International” do?
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters is located in Washington, DC. Their responsibilities include, among others: lobbying Congress for laws the benefit workers, sending help to Locals that need it, and coordinating national organizing efforts.
What are Union dues? What are they used for?
Union dues are the money you pay to the Union to help pay for support staff, legal costs, negotiation costs, arbitrator’s fees, etc.
What is a “Local”?
The Teamsters have a structure that includes a national body, intermediaries, and the Local Unions. Most decisions are made at the state and Local Union level.
How long do contracts last?
Usually three to five years.
What kind of say do I get in the contract?
Before contract talks start, the Union asks you what you’d like to see in a contract. Usually the Union sends out a survey to all bargaining unit members. Once the contract has been negotiated, it’s submitted to you and your coworkers for ratification. If a majority doesn’t approve of the contract, your negotiation team goes back to the drawing board.
Who negotiates our contract?
The Teamsters and the Company each choose their own negotiators. The Company’s team is usually comprised of lawyers, local management, and upper management officials. The Union’s team consists of bargaining unit employees and expert Union negotiators.
What is a “bargaining unit”?
A bargaining unit is made up of all the employees who are eligible to vote for and be in the Union.
What are shop stewards and Business Agents?
A shop steward is one of your coworkers who acts as a representative of the Union in the workplace. When there is a problem with management and you need Union help, your first stop should be a visit with your shop steward.
A Business Agent is the official of your Local Union who resolves any problems the shop steward cannot.
If I sign an authorization card do I have to vote yes in the election? What if I change my mind?
When the NLRB conducts a Union election, it is conducted by a secret ballot. No one has the right to know how you voted.
How does the Union work out problems with management?
The contract lays out what the procedures are and explains how conflicts are to be resolved. When management engages in unfair conduct or violates a provision of the contract, there are steps spelled out in the contract to resolve the problem.
What is a grievance procedure?
A grievance procedure is a method for solving employee complaints. Without a Union contract, you can take your complaints to management, but management has the final say on whether to make improvements or correct a problem.
With a Union contract, you have the help of a Union steward (a coworker you elect, who receives extra training from Teamsters Local 174 in filing grievances and enforcing your contract), to help you file a grievance. If your employer refuses to settle the complaint, the grievance will be heard by a neutral third-party arbitrator chosen by mutual agreement between our Union and your employer. The employer and the Union are legally bound to abide by the arbitrator’s decision.
If we form a Union, does it mean that we can’t deal directly with our supervisor?
In a Union setting, most problems are resolved directly between workers and their supervisors. A Union steward is available to help, but only if a member requests that help because he/she has been unsatisfied with attempts to work something out directly with the employer.
In a non-union workplace, you can talk all you want with management – but management has the last word, take it or leave it.
When you are protected by a Union contract, you can still talk all you want with management, but you don’t have to take “no” for an answer. Being part of a Union gives you the right to effectively appeal unfair decisions and force your employer to correct unfair actions.
Is “Talking Union” protected?
The right to form a labor organization is protected by the National Labor Relations Act. This means it is illegal for any employer to ban discussion about Unions or to retaliate against a worker for trying to organize. Generally, a worker has the right to talk about organizing and to pass out Union membership cards anywhere in the workplace as long as it does not disrupt production. Handing out leaflets is legally protected as long as it is done on a worker’s own time and in non-work areas like the cafeteria, locker rooms, or parking lot.
If a Union election is to be held, employers may be required to provide the Union with the names and addresses of workers who may be eligible to form the Union. In addition, professional organizers may have the right to enter the workplace if it is open to other members of the public. It is illegal for an employer to threaten or intimidate employees or try to bribe them with pay raises or other special benefits in order to discourage unionization.
What happens after the election?
If over 50% of the employees voting choose to join a particular Union, the organization is “certified” and the employer is required to bargain with the organization.