FAQs – Get the Facts!
To be part of a highly-trained workforce that is proud of its skills, knowledge, and commitment to the electrical industry. IBEW Local 96 is committed to raising the standard of living for all electricians in Central Massachusetts by the advancement of wages, benefits, and working conditions.
A union is a group of workers who are united together to have a collective voice in their jobs and working conditions. The basic idea of a union is that by joining together with fellow employees to form a union, workers have a greater ability to improve conditions at the worksite. In other words, “in unity there is strength.”
It is a contract signed between the company/employer and the union spelling out the rights of the workers.The union employees decide what to negotiate for in a contract. A negotiating committee is selected from within the union. The committee then sits down with management to negotiate a contract.
The law states that both sides must bargain “in good faith” to reach an agreement on wages, benefits, and working conditions. The contract will only take effect after it is approved (ratified) by a majority of the workers.
It is not possible to know exactly what will be in the contract. The goal is to win improvements with each contract.
The union is a democratic organization run by the members. Members elect the local officers. You vote on many issues of importance to you. You vote on your contract. Union members elect delegates to national conventions, where delegates elect national officers and vote on major issues affecting the union, such as constitutional amendments. The union is the people themselves.
The law prohibits any employer from discriminating against people in any way because of their union activity. If an employer does harass or discriminate against a union supporter, the union files a charge with the Labor Board and prosecutes the employer to the fullest extent.
The best safeguard against the employer harassing anyone is for everyone to stick together. Without a union, management has a free hand to treat people as they please. But with a union, everyone has the protection of a union contract.
Fairness is the most important part of the union contract. The same rules apply to everyone. If any worker feels that he or she is not being treated fairly, then he or she still has the opportunity to complain to the supervisor, just like before. But under a union contract, the supervisor or manager no longer has the final say. They are no longer judge and jury. If the worker is not satisfied with the response of the supervisor, the worker can file a grievance.
The first step of a grievance procedure is for the steward to accompany the worker to try and work it out with the supervisor. If the worker is not satisfied, the steward and the employee, with help from the Union Business Manager, can bring the grievance to higher management. If the complaint is not resolved, then the issue can be placed before an outside neutral judge called an arbitrator.
The purpose of forming a union is to win improvements in wages and benefits, not to lose them. We start with what we have and go up. On average, unionized workers earn one third more than non-union workers in wages and benefits.
The employees vote on whether or not to accept a contract. Would you vote to accept a contract that took away your benefits? Think about it. If having a union meant that the employer could reduce your benefits, why would the employer be fighting the union so hard?
Besides, it is against the law for the employer to retaliate against the union by taking away wages or benefits.
Some employers would like you to think unions are corrupt. The truth is that unions are decent, honest organizations dedicated to improving the lives of working people.
Nothing is perfect, and there have been examples of union officials who have not been honest. But the same is true of government officials and business leaders. There are a few bad apples in any group of people.
Telling you not to vote for a union because there have been some corrupt officials is like telling you never to work for a company because a company official has been corrupt.
The union can guarantee this: that when workers stick together as a union they have more bargaining power and more of a voice than they do as individuals.
When the union wins, you will negotiate a contract with the employer. We can make no promises on what the contract will contain. That is for you to decide when you vote on your contract. We can guarantee that the contract will be legally binding, and the union will make sure the contract is enforced.
Dues are used to run your union and keep it strong. The dues are divided between the local union and the national union. The money is used to provide expert services to your local union, including negotiators, lawyers, economists, and educators; to pay the salaries of officers and staff, including organizers; to provide newsletters and conferences. In addition to that the local union’s money is used for the union hall, the day to day business, and for other expenses of your union.
Did you know that the employer also pays dues to organizations? Employers have their own ”unions” – such as the Chamber of Commerce, the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), and the Massachusetts Electrical Contractors Association (MECA). They pay for representation. Why shouldn’t you?
Furthermore, since when is the company so concerned about your money?
MASSACHUSETTS LABOR NEWS
- Tuesday, May 22, 6pm – LU 96 Executive Board Meeting at Union Hall
- Thursday, May 31, 10am – Retiree Group Meeting at Union Hall