Every employee has a contract with her or his employer that sets out the terms and conditions, pay rates, benefits, etc. of the employment arrangement. Some of these agreements are written and others may be oral, but in most cases, the employee must negotiate the terms of her or his employment on their own.
In contrast, when workers unite to form a union at their worksites, the union bargains for them collectively. Collective bargaining is a process for employees to have a voice in their workplace and in their employment contracts. By electing a union to negotiate wages, benefits, work schedules and other terms and conditions of employment–rather than each individual employee trying to get a deal with the boss–organized employees are better able to ensure fair employment terms and safe working conditions.
Numerous studies have shown that union membership pays off at the bargaining table. A few examples include:
Only 20 percent of non-union workers are covered by a guaranteed (defined-benefit) pension, while 100 percent of all Local 1000 permanent civil service workers are covered;
Only 63 percent of non-union workers have paid sick leave, while 100 percent of Local 1000 permanent, permanent-intermittent and seasonal clerks have paid sick leave;
Non-union employees pay an average of 33 percent of the premium for family healthcare coverage; Local 1000 members pay on average 20 percent after the first year of employment.
Nationally, the average female worker makes 77 percent of what the average male employee makes. Among Local 1000-represented employees, women make 93 percent of what the average male employee makes in state service and the gap is closing.
By working together, and bargaining collectively, we can improve our workplaces, the quality of services we provide and the communities in which we live.