Not sure if joining a union is right for you? Here are some things to consider
Over the past year, workers around the country have been making headlines for their attempts to unionize. The media industry and Big Tech have seen a surge in the number of workers trying to organize, especially at companies like Amazon, The New York Times, The Atlantic, and Google. When many people think about unions, the stereotypical image of a blue-collar worker doing manual labor often comes to mind. However, with the number of jobs labeled “blue-collar” disappearing, white-collar workers have been stepping up to push for social justice in the workplace.
Most unionized workers today are educators, steel workers, public service workers, auto workers, and electrical workers. Labor unions advocate for protections that employees wouldn’t normally get on their own. When collective bargaining is done effectively, workers can obtain job security, better working conditions, higher wages, and quality health care. In addition to those benefits, many union contracts offer job stability by requiring that employees can only be terminated for cause. Unions can also negotiate to secure more vacation and sick time for employees, set salary minimums, raise salary bands, and more.
“I can’t think of any group that wouldn’t benefit from joining a union,” said Edgar Ndjatou, the executive director of Workplace Fairness, an organization that provides information and resources to help workers learn about their rights. “There’s something very powerful about having a union come in to negotiate on your behalf for better working conditions. A lot of people lost their lives and their livelihoods to fight for that right.”
Even if they don’t realize it, all workers protected under the National Labor Relations Act (#NLRA) have rights. Workers have the right to form or join a union, to negotiate with employers over the terms and conditions for employment, and to be protected from being fired or demoted for attempting to unionize, having union discussions at work, or going on strike. Regardless of the workplace, when employees band together to unionize and fight for their rights, it can change the nature of an industry.