What is a Union?
People who aren’t in a union or don’t know anyone in a trade or labor union often unsure what labor unions do and why someone would join.
Labor unions strive to improve the lives of all working families – to bring economic justice to the workplace and social justice to our nation.
It’s all about making sure working families get what they collectively deserve. A labor union or trade union is an organized group of workers who unite to make decisions about conditions affecting their work.
Who are union members?
There are over 60 unions representing over 14 million workers throughout the country.
No matter what work you do, there’s a union that represents your work. Teachers and miners, firefighters and farm workers, bakers and engineers, pilots and public employees, doctors and nurses, patients and plumbers, bus drivers, office workers and computer professionals are all union members.
Unions negotiate good and fair contracts, give us good representation on the job, and provide us with a lot of benefits.
— Robert Knox, GMP Union Local 9B
Benefits of belonging to a union
One of the big reasons workers join a union is to ensure fair treatment in the workplace. As a union member, you have a collective voice regarding:
- pay & wages,
- work hours,
- benefits – including retirement plans, health insurance, vacation and sick leave, tuition reimbursement, etc.,
- working conditions,
- workplace health and safety,
- ways to balance work and family,
- the best ways to get work completed, and
- other work-related issues.
Another advantage of belonging to a union is that members earn 30% more than non-union workers. And if you’re a union worker, you are also much more likely to have health and pension benefits.
In addition, unions give workers like you a strong collective voice that’s heard in government. Unions represent workers in talks with lawmakers, and remind politicians that working families voted them into office.
Some of the benefits – like the weekend – that workers take for granted today were initially provided by unions.
Visit the AFL-CIO website for more information about “What is a union?” and your right to join a union.
But what if you can’t join a union and want to support your fellow working Americans?
Working America defends the interests of working people who do not belong to a union. If for some reason you can’t join a union, but want to support your fellow working Americans and fight for good jobs and a just economy, join Working America at www.WorkingAmerica.org.
Working America has over 3 million members – workers without the benefit of a workplace union. They use their collective power and resources to demand that politicians address the priorities that matter most to working people--not just wealthy special interests.
Using strength in numbers and the collective buying power of the affiliation with the AFL-CIO, Working America also provides its members with benefits and discounts for day-to-day life.
As a Working America member, you’ll automatically be eligible for Union Plus discounts and benefits at www.UnionPlus.org – including legal services, health savings and discounts on everything from AT&T wireless, car rentals, auto insurance, flowers and much more.