Not sure if joining the union is right for you? Here are some things to consider

Even if they do not realize it, all workers have rights protected under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Dismiss workers from forming or joining any union related to the terms and conditions of employment, negotiating with employees and discussing the union from the job, or negotiating with the union at work, or going on strike. Or the right to be protected from degradation. Regardless of the workplace, when employees fight for their unity and for their rights, it can change the nature of the industry.

“Unions increase the collective stake for everyone in the industry in a positive way, especially where there is a high union density,” said ND Jato. Said “Places that are not allying will have to raise their standards to meet unified rivals.”

But despite its positive effects on employees, forming alliances is not always easy, and recent court rulings, anti-union union campaigns, old letters about union corruption, and stereotypes about union workers have made it even more so. Made difficult Although public support for trade unions in general Constantly highOver the past few decades, non-stop union busting efforts have had a significant impact on employment in the United States, reducing union membership all the time. Last year, 10.8% of US manpower Compared to 35% in the mid-1950s, trade unions belonged to the union when union membership was highest. According to Bureau of Labor StatisticsIn 2020, more than 12% of union members were black, the highest percentage of any race.

As union rights continue to be stripped away and companies challenge the right of their employees to join, many workers now wonder if they are eligible for the organization, how they can benefit from the union, and Are the benefits of unionization always worth the hassle? . To set the record straight, workers’ rights activists are talking about making people aware of their rights in the workplace, arguing that uniting is almost always a step in the right direction.

Who can join the union and who can’t?

Despite common misconceptions, most workers in the private sector, regardless of industry, have the right to unite. However, only People protected Under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), there are collective bargaining rights that allow them to negotiate agreements with employers through union representatives.

There are some significant differences in which groups are protected by the NLRA. For example, many care workers who are paid directly by government Medicaid agencies are unable to join unions because they are technically government employees. However, there are Ongoing efforts to change that. People working in franchises also have a hard time uniting because workers are usually categorized as employees of individual franchises rather than large corporations. Rifshare drivers and food delivery services such as Jag workers are challenged to consider themselves independent, contractors, although an aggressive battle is being fought to change that ranking.

“In general, most workers are not really independent contractors,” said Adam Shah, policy director who works with Jobs Justice. “An independent contractor happens when you have a leak and you call a plumber. In this case, you are not the plumber’s employer; You are only hiring them for employment. People who work for Uber or Left or Door Dash are not like you work on yellow pages.

In 2019, California passed a law to legalize gig workers as employees, but Proposition 22 exempted Uber and the Left. Ongoing efforts are underway to end this. Last year, California’s Gavin Newsom signed into law Bill 2257, which removed restrictions on companies hiring creative workers, including independent journalists, photographers, artists and musicians. However, independent workers are not protected under federal labor laws. Freelancers seeking some of the benefits of a full-time employee have joined the union Freelancers Union, Who support health benefits, resources and policy changes, but still do not have the right to collective bargaining.

Finally, workplace caretakers, agricultural workers, independent contractors, and public sector employees are not covered under the NLRA – although government employees are covered under different laws. Specifically, the racial and gender effects derived from these legislation are disproportionate: legislation such as the FLSA, the Social Security Act, and the NLRA since the 1930s. Deliberately deleted Women and people of color who refuse job protections have the most potential, such as agricultural employment or domestic work. This discrimination kept the unions mostly white and male in the 1950s and 1960s. Women and people of color became the most likely organized group in decades after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed discrimination against race or gender as employment and union. But despite this increase in labor union diversity, membership has so far declined due to the rapid growth of non-union industries, the opening and closing of facilities, and the expansion and contraction of jobs.

Recent efforts to discourage unity

Aside from the question of who is legally protected by law, employer and workplace conditions can create barriers that prevent workers from uniting, including organizing workers to fire or stop firing. It involves trying.

Recent large-scale efforts by the courts and large corporations to discourage collective bargaining have also been successful. Last month, the Supreme Court called what it called a “union-breaking decision.” The union ruled against the recruitment In the fields of California – for better working conditions for farmers. Then in April, Amazon’s warehouse workers overwhelmingly Voted against the coalition After a million-dollar fight by the company to discourage the campaign. The company used social distance measures in Covid 19 to stifle union debates, flooded its employees with anti-union text messages, held mandatory meetings, and urged workers to “work without obligations.” Created a website and distributed leaflets. Critics of Amazon’s tactics say they used false information to convince workers that uniting was against their best interests.

“Unions have only enough money to fight misunderstandings, especially in states where unions are discouraged,” Anjatou said. If you don’t want to be united, no one will force you. I firmly believe in that. But at the very least, I want workers to make informed decisions. If people don’t work and do their own research, negative perceptions about unions increase many times over.

Non-aligned workers still have more options to fight for justice in the workplace if they fail to form unions. Under the NLRA, employees who defend workers’ safety are still required to “Solid activitySection of the law.

“Even if you lose the union election, don’t lose,” Nijatao said. “If you all protest against the conditions of working together, there are far more reservations if you are doing it yourself.”

Closing the ethnic wealth gap

Despite the history of discrimination, trade unions offer workers protection and bargaining rights can be an important step in bridging the racial divide and changing racist attitudes. Studies have shown That members of the White Union have less racial resentment towards policies that benefit black Americans. Research has also shown Those who belong to a trade union or live in an area where people have positive feelings about trade unions can help reduce the risk of poverty. At the individual level, since many union contracts include standard wages, the decision is far from the administration on what people can earn, and this can be a big step towards wage equality.

“One of the reasons for such a problem of equal pay is that companies will not share with employees what the pay is for everyone, and so you don’t know that black people are less than white people. Are earning and women are earning less than that. Men because you have no statistics. “These statistics are things the union can request and negotiate.”

Belonging to a union can also limit the chances of people being fired for discriminatory reasons. There is deliberate racial segregation Hard to prove Since the fired employee has to prove in court that prejudice plays a key role in his dismissal. Because many union agreements include language that says employees can only be fired for a reason, being a union member can prevent workers from going to court. If a worker is fired unjustifiably for any reason, filing a complaint with their union may result in their reinstatement.

“The race issues have been the same as the union members have had to deal with, but the union members are much less white men than before,” Shah said. “Our white privileged society will always have people of color at the bottom of the wage scale, and the way low-income people unite will increase wages for people of color and women.”

Shah is currently urging people to support him Protect the Organized Rights Act, Which will extend wage protection for employees and help remove many of the barriers to union formation or related issues. The bill is currently being pressured by Democrats in Congress, with some resisting Republicans trying to overthrow it. Shah understands the reluctance of many when it comes to forming a union, but he encourages those seeking equality and bargaining rights in the workplace to exercise their right and consider it.

“The benefits of forming a union are so obvious and the power and prestige gained by raising a collective voice at work is so important. It’s a powerful, powerful thing when people fight together for their rights,” Shah said.

Caroline Copeland is a staff reporter and copy editor at Prism. It covers racial justice and culture. Follow her on Twitter at Carolyn_copes.

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