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What are unions






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    What are unions What are unions Document Transcript

    • How to Solve Grievances with Union ContractsInterviewUseful information to understand the subject, is the goal of this summary2010Karla Pamela Beltrán CarrilloUniversidad del Valle de México11/11/2010<br />What are unions?<br />Unions are organizations that negotiate with corporations, businesses and other organizations on behalf of union members. There are trade unions, which represent workers who do a particular type of job, and industrial unions, which represent workers in a particular industry. <br />What do Unions do?<br />Since the Industrial Revolution, unions have often been credited with securing improvements in working conditions and wages. Many unions were formed in manufacturing and resource companies, companies operating in steel mills, textile factories and mines. Over time, however, unions have spread into other industries. Unions are often associated with the "old economy": companies that operate in heavily regulated environments. Today, a large portion of membership is found in transportation, utilities and government.<br />How do unions affect the labor environment?<br />The power of labor unions rests in their two main tools of influence: restricting labor supply and increasing labor demand. Some economists compare them to cartels. Through collective bargaining, unions negotiate the wages that employers will pay. Unions ask for a higher wage than the equilibrium wage (found at the intersect of the labor supply and labor demand curves), but this can lower the hours demanded by employers. Since a higher wage rate equates to less work per dollar, unions often face problems when negotiating higher wages and instead will often focus on increasing the demand for labor.<br />Unions have a unique legal position and in some sense, they operate like a monopoly as they are immune to antitrust laws. Because unions control, or can exert a good deal of influence on, the labor supply for a particular company or industry, unions can restrict non-union workers from depressing the wage rate. They are able to do this because legal guidelines provide a certain level of protection to union activities.<br />What can unions do during negotiations?<br />When unions want to increase union member wages or request other concessions from employers, they can do so through collective bargaining. Collective bargaining is a process in which workers (through a union) and employers meet to discuss the employment environment. Unions will present their argument for a particular issue, and employers must decide whether to concede to the workers' demands or to present counterarguments. The term "bargaining" may be misleading, as it brings to mind two people haggling at a flea market. In reality, the goal of the union in collective bargaining is to improve the status of the worker while still keeping the employer in business. The bargaining relationship is continuous, rather than just a one-time affair.If unions are unable to negotiate, or are not satisfied with the outcomes of collective bargaining, they may initiate a work stoppage or strike.<br />What goes in a Union Contract?<br />There are no typical union contracts, because every workplace is slightly different, and so are working conditions. However, some basic things are the same.<br />Definition: all contracts are products of negotiations between the workers and the boss. They are usually written in boring, legal terms, but these are very important for securing your rights in the workplace. <br />According to labor law, contracts represent the minimum compensation and benefits for employees. An employer may offer rights and benefits that exceed the minimum standards set in an existing contract.<br />It should also be pointed out that all workers in the workplace should know what's in their contract, because the bosses often will try to violate contracts (that is why we elect shop stewards and negotiate grievance procedures). The employer can only succeed in undermining the contract if the workers don't stand up for their rights.<br />List of typical Contract Provisions<br />Union Shop - A provision that states that all employees must belong to the union as a condition of employment. <br />No discrimination policy - employers cannot discriminate against employees because of union membership, age, creed, color, sexual preference, religion, etc. <br />Grievance procedure - one of the cornerstones of unionism. This system provides a way for most conflicts between management and employees to be peacefully resolved. If an employee feels he or she has been wronged and cannot resolve it with management, a union representative will meet with a management representative and try to resolve the issue. If that fails, another attempt is made with the management representative's superior. If that fails, an outside arbitrator is called in, whose word is binding on both parties.<br />Hours & Overtime defined - usually 40 hours at 8 hours a day. If more than 8 hours in one day or 40 hours in one week are worked, overtime must be paid.<br />Work breaks defined - usually two 15 minute breaks per 8 hours worked.<br />Union Stewards - union stewards are simply employees who are elected to represent the union on the job site. They make sure the contract is not violated, help employees that have problems with management, and handle most of the grievance procedure etc.<br />No strike/no lockout - during the duration of the contract, the union may not strike and management may not lock employees out of the workplace. <br />Appeal from discharge - in the event that an employee is fired, he or she can appeal to the union for help within 30 days.<br />Wages - Union contracts will usually define what the base rate of pay is. If a union simply cannot secure a direct raise, there are other options available in getting better compensation for employees. <br />Sunday premium pay - compensates employees at a greater rate for working Sunday. <br />Birthday as a holiday - Happy Birthday! Take the day off!<br />Health care - Most unions will work to insure that the employee has no monthly contribution.<br />Pension fund - the contract states that the employer will contribute so much per month to a pension fund. <br />There are many other things that can and do go into contracts: they are tailored for each industry, shop, factory, etc. Some contracts will have special provisions for unusual cases. Some contracts may be "industry-wide" representing all workers in the same line of work for an entire region. Even collectively owned workplaces might have a union contract that protect the democratic rights of each worker-owner.<br />A typical grievance process<br />In a union environment, a typical grievance procedure begins with an employee presenting a problem to his or her immediate supervisor within a certain time period after the offending event has occurred. The supervisor then has a set amount of time to either respond or send the grievance on to be addressed by the head of the department. At this point, a union representative enters the negotiations on behalf of the employee. If the situation is still not resolved, the grievance continues up the chain of command to the plant manager and the president of the local union. If the labor union fails to follow the procedures at any point, the contract usually specifies that it must drop the grievance. Conversely, the company is usually obligated to resolve the grievance in the employee's favor if management fails to follow the procedures outlined in the collective bargaining agreement.<br />If the situation still cannot be resolved, the final step in the grievance process is for both parties to present their side to an  HYPERLINK "http://www.answers.com/topic/arbitrator" t "_top" arbitrator. The arbitrator's role is to determine the rights of both parties under the labor agreement, and his or her decision is usually final. The labor contract generally specifies the type of arbitrator used, the method of selecting the arbitrator, the scope of the arbitrator's authority, and the arrangements for the arbitrator's payment. A potential intermediate step involves presenting the grievance to a mediator, whose job is to help the parties solve their own differences before they reach the formal arbitration phase. Mediation is usually less time consuming and expensive than arbitration. In addition, the mediator may be able to teach the two parties dispute resolution skills that may be helpful in solving future problems.<br />What is a union contract?<br />A union contract - also called a "collective bargaining agreement" - is a legally binding document that is binding by law between the employee and the employer. It is negotiated with the employer and provides for, among other things, wages, benefits, hours, general working conditions, and procedures for addressing problems on the job. The advantages of having a Collective Agreement are many. Among the biggest is that everyone is subject to the same rules -- no favoritism, no wage disparity, not unjustified discipline.<br />A Collective Agreement has a set starting and ending date. Once the new Agreement is negotiated, it must be presented to the members in a ratification vote. Members have a choice of whether to accept or reject the Agreement. If a majority of those voting votes to accept the Agreement, it officially becomes the contract that governs everyone's employment until it is renegotiated.After the Agreement is ratified, it becomes the union's job to make sure management lives up to it. If management tries to do something in which is not allowed under the Collective Agreement, the union can launch a “grievance”. A grievance is a charge that management has violated the Agreement. If management does not agree to make changes, the grievance can go all the way to Arbitration, where a neutral third party trained in workplace disputes will decide the issue, much like a judge in a court.<br />