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Friday, 22 September 2017
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Here you will find answers concerning the value and contributions of Unions in America.

Union Facts

The Facts About CWA

The Communications Workers of America (CWA), America's largest communications and media union, represents more than 700,000 men and women in both the private and public sectors of the economy.  Over 2,000 collective bargaining agreements protect workers in telecommunications and information technology; media and publishing; health care, higher education, law enforcement and public service; in the airlines and in manufacturing.

CWA is affiliated with the AFL-CIO, the Canadian Labour Congress, and the worldwide Union Network International.

The Facts About Organizing

Getting union representation is the best way to gain the working conditions that you and your co-workers deserve. With a union, you have the legal right to bargain over your pay, benefits, employment security, health and safety, and retirement, etc. A union also gives you the ability to negotiate over company policies that affect promotions, job bidding, layoffs, and many other aspects of your job.

Having a union and the right to bargain collectively with your employer is not some old-fashioned idea that’s time has come and gone. Top executives of every major corporation negotiate their own compensation, retirement and severance packages with the companies for which they work.

There is a pattern—a script—that most employers follow when you start talking union:

  • Make empty threats and promises.
  • Tell lies about the union.
  • Start floating rumors to discourage you.
  • Refuse to have an open, honest debate so you can hear the truth.

Learn more about what your employer might say.

Our experience tells us that it's best when workers organize themselves if they are to create a viable organization in their workplace. CWA organizers and staff can help. But it's the workers who must join together and build their organization. After talking with your co-workers to find out their issues, you can call CWA to talk with a union organizer. He or she will set up a meeting with you and some of your co-workers. Together, you will create a plan for a organizing a union in your workplace.

Learn more about how to organize a union where you work.

The Facts About Labor Unions

"It is one of the characteristics of a free and democratic modern nation that it has free and independent labor unions."
President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Labor unions are made up of working people working together to solve problems, build stronger workplaces and give working families a real voice. Unions give workers a voice on the job about safety, security, pay, benefits—and about the best ways to get the work done. Union workers earn 28 percent more each week than nonunion workers and are much more likely to have health and pension benefits. Unions give working people a voice in government. They represent working families before lawmakers, and make sure politicians never forget that working families voted them into office.

What is the AFL-CIO?  

The American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) is the voluntary federation of America's unions, representing 10 million working women and men nationwide and another 1 million nonunion workers of Working America.

The AFL-CIO was formed in 1955 by the merger of the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations. Get the union facts.

What is a union?

Labor unions are made up of working people working together to solve problems, build stronger workplaces and give working families a real voice. Unions give workers a voice on the job about safety, security, pay, benefits—and about the best ways to get the work done. Union workers earn 30 percent more each week than nonunion workers and are much more likely to have health and pension benefits. Unions give working people a voice in government. They represent working families before lawmakers, and make sure politicians never forget that working families voted them into office.

What unions are part of the AFL-CIO?

Fifty-five unions make up the membership of the AFL-CIO. Click here for the list of unions with links to those that have websites. Individual union sites include union facts, news for members and information on joining a union.

What is the mission of the AFL-CIO?

The AFL-CIO's mission is to bring social and economic justice to our nation by enabling working people to have a voice on the job, in government, in a changing global economy and in their communities.

Who runs the AFL-CIO?

The AFL-CIO is governed by a quadrennial convention at which all federation members are represented by delegates elected by their fellow union members. These delegates set broad policies and goals for the union movement and every four years elect officers, who govern the day-to-day work of the AFL-CIO.

The AFL-CIO's president is John J. Sweeney. Richard Trumka is the secretary-treasurer and Arlene Holt-Baker is the executive vice president. These officers, along with 44 vice presidents, make up the AFL-CIO Executive Council.

At the state level, 51 AFL-CIO-chartered state federations (including Puerto Rico) are led by officers and boards elected by local union delegates. More than 500 central labor councils, also chartered by the AFL-CIO, give working people a strong voice in their communities.

For more details, see the AFL-CIO Organization Chart.

How many union members are there in the United States?

About 15.4 million, 10 million of whom belong to unions affiliated with the AFL-CIO. To connect to your union's website, visit our links page. Your union's site will include union facts and history, news and information for members and guidance on joining the union.

Who joins unions?

Every kind of worker! Today's unions include manufacturing and construction workers, teachers, technicians and doctors—and every type of worker in between. No matter what you do for a living, there's a union that has members who do the same thing.

Why do people join unions?

People join unions so they can work together and bargain together with their employer. On average, union workers’ wages are 30 percent higher than their nonunion counterparts and union members also enjoy the union advantage of better benefits, working conditions and a voice on the job about how the work gets done.

Are unions still important to working people today?

Unions are as important as they ever were—because corporations are just as dedicated to their bottom line, regardless of the consequences for workers. The nature of work in America is changing. Employers are trying to shed responsibilities—for providing health insurance, good pension coverage, reasonable work hours and job safety protections, for example—while making workers' jobs and incomes less secure through downsizing, part-timing and contracting out. Working people need a voice at work to keep employers from making our jobs look like they did 100 years ago, with sweatshop conditions, unlivable wages and 70-hour workweeks.

What does the law say about workers' freedom to join unions?

The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 gave most U.S. workers the right to join or form unions. It did not include agricultural workers, railroad and airline workers or public employees, whose freedom to choose union membership is covered by other laws.

How can I join a union?

Under current labor law, joining a union is more difficult than it should be. Generally, when a majority of workers at a worksite signify they want a union (by signing cards or a petition), the National Labor Relations Board sets up an election. (The National Mediation Board does this for airline and railroad workers.) Too often, though, employers fight to block workers' freedom to choose a union. Employers that recognize the value of working collaboratively with workers sometimes agree to remain neutral and allow workers to form their union by signing cards rather than going through a formal election process. The first step to joining a union is to locate your individual union and contact them for union facts and guidance on organizing.

What are the AFL-CIO's legislative or policy priorities?

The AFL-CIO educates union members about issues that affect the daily lives of working families, and encourages them to make their voice heard for a government that works for working families. We make sure members have the latest union facts and news on workers' rights.

Our priorities include creating family-supporting jobs by investing tax dollars in schools, roads, bridges and airports; improving the lives of workers through education, job training and raising the minimum wage; keeping good jobs at home by reforming trade rules, reindustrializing the U.S. economy and redoubling efforts at worker protections in the global economy; strengthening Social Security and private pensions; making high-quality, affordable health care available to everyone; and holding corporations more accountable for their actions.

What is the AFL-CIO's political program?

The AFL-CIO and affiliate unions mobilize union members at the grassroots level. We encourage union members to register to vote. We also research working families' concerns about current issues, and put together information showing where candidates for all levels of elected office stand on those issues. Through networks of volunteers and activists, we get the word out to union members in every part of the country about the political and union facts they need to make informed decisions in the voting booth. The AFL-CIO also offers training for union members who want to become more involved in political life by running for office themselves.

How is union political action paid for?

Partisan political activities are paid for by voluntary donations from union members.

Do unions tell their members how to vote?

Many national unions, central labor councils and state federations—as well as the AFL-CIO—endorse candidates for office and let their members know why they believe the endorsed candidates would do the best job for working families. But no one can tell union members how to vote—that's up to each individual.

 

 

 

 

 


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