If you’re in the trade, it makes good sense to join a union, but don’t just take our word for it. In an article for CounterPunch.org, David Macaray outlines the top seven reasons to join a Union. Below is an excerpt from his piece.
1. Money. Let’s deal with this one straightaway, and let’s be sure to get it right. Generally speaking, union jobs pay significantly more than non-union jobs. From top to bottom, industry to industry, region to region, union wages are roughly 15 per cent higher than non-union wages. It’s as simple as that. If wages matter to you, then you’ll want to join a union, because you’ll make more as a union member. That’s part of the reason companies resist having a union workforce. They don’t want to part with that money.
2. Benefits. Pensions, medical insurance, paid vacation, holidays, personal holidays, sick pay, overtime premium pay, penalty pay and shift differential are generally not only better in a union shop, often the only way to obtain them is through a union contract. In truth, many of these benefits and perks don’t exist without a union providing them. That’s another reason why companies don’t want to go union. Under a union contract they have to share those goodies.
3. Safety. This is a stark and sobering reality. The safety record of union facilities is demonstrably superior to that of non-union facilities. Anti-unionists can talk all they like about OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) being the “great equalizer,” but it simply isn’t true—no way, no how.
A union contract gives employees the immediate right to insist on a safe work environment. Rather than having to petition a remote government agency in the hope that they come to your aid, as a union worker you can instantly grieve an unsafe condition. The safety provisions of a union contract guarantee immediate, hands-on control. It’s no contest. Union facilities have an infinitely better safety record.
4. Dignity. As a union worker you don’t have to put up with flaky bosses, arbitrary decisions, or co-worker harassment. You can still be fired for substandard work performance, but you don’t have to tip-toe around in fear or be at the mercy of weird or grossly incompetent managers. Because administering the provisions of a union contract requires a certain level of expertise, you tend to get better, more efficient bosses. Instead of flitting about making arbitrary, off-the-cuff decisions, they’re forced to behave like “professionals.”
5. Security. The boss can’t walk up and fire you because he wants to give your job to his wife’s nephew, who’s looking for a summer job before returning to school. Management can’t lay you off out of sequence. They can’t demote you arbitrarily. Nor can they prevent you, without sufficient cause, from promoting to the next higher job when it’s your turn. African Americans and women didn’t get their fair shot at higher-rung manufacturing jobs until labor unions gave it to them, a fact that doesn’t receive enough recognition.
6. Competence. Surprise! Union workers tend to be better workers than non-union workers. Just think about it: Which job in the community is going to attract a higher caliber performer—the one with the good wages, benefits and working conditions, or the crap job with low pay, lousy benefits and no air-conditioning?
Not only will better workers apply to a union facility, but management will have a significantly greater number to choose from, allowing them to hire the very best.
7. Activism. You have the opportunity—the privilege—of one day becoming a shop steward, of representing your fellow workers, if they feel justified in giving you that responsibility. Shop steward is no glorified popularity contest, like being elected class president in high school. It’s an important job.
People on the floor are going to select the person they deem best qualified to represent their interests. As a union official, whose authority is recognized by federal labor law, you will forever be a footnote in the history of the American labor movement. Very cool.
Simply put, joining a union can mean a better quality of life. If you’re ready to make more money, have better benefits, a safer work environment, dignity in the workplace, job security, and a higher lever of competence in your workplace, it’s time for you to join us!
Fill out the form below and the men and women of Bricklayers Local 5 will be in touch with you shortly. We look forward to speaking with you!