Site Map Icon
RSS Feed icon
 
 
 
Contact Elected Officials!
Organizing: Frequently Asked Questions
Updated On: Jun 29, 2012

Q. What is a union?

A. A union is a group of workers helping each other. When this group becomes a majority in a workplace it can achieve legal recognition and negotiate a written contract that can accomplish much for the whole group.

Q. What are the benefits of organizing my workplace?

A. Union workers have on average thirty percent higher wages and benefits according to U.S. Dept. of Labor statistics. A standard union contract contains a "grievance procedure" which protects you from unjust discipline or firing. Almost any problem in the workplace can be resolved more effectively and fairly with representation than on your own.

Q. What is a "bargaining unit"?

A. A bargaining unit is an appropriate grouping of workers for bargaining and administering a written contract with an employer. Normally, all the workers at a given location of a single employer will be considered an appropriate bargaining unit. Managers and supervisors may be excluded, but "lead" persons or other working foremen may be included.

Q. Can I be fired or disciplined for joining or supporting the Teamsters (or any other union)?

A. It is an Unfair Labor Practice under the National Labor Relations Act for an employer to coerce, restrain, or interfere in any way with your right to join and support the union of your choice. If you believe your rights are being violated call the union immediately.

Q. What is the process involved in organizing my workplace?

A. You'll be asked at some point to sign a union card. Once about 65-75% of the employees in the bargaining unit are signed up (legally, you could file with as few as 30% of employees signed up, but it's best to wait for a solid majority), the cards are submitted to the NLRB (the National Labor Relations Board is the government agency that oversees union/management relations) or the FMCS (the Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service, which is a federal agency that acts as a neutral mediator and arbitor). The bargaining unit (see above) is finalized either by the NLRB, FMCS or by an agreement between the company and union. An election date is set. The secret ballot election is held and a majority wins. Of course, during the few weeks before the election, both management and pro-union employees will try to disseminate information. Management will do this through mandatory meetings and memos in your mailboxes. Pro-union employees will try to get you to talk with them about concerns, hold voluntary meetings and may mail info to your home.

Q. Can anyone join a unon?

A. Not everyone has the legal right to join a union. Agricultural and domestic workers, for example, are usually excluded from the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which gives workers in the private sector the right to win representation through a union election, as are temporary employees and other workers. Approximately 40% of public sector employees are also denied this right; fourteen states explicitly exclude public sector employees from collective bargaining. Also, management and supervisors with broad authority may be excluded from union representation.

Q. How does a grievance work?

A. The grievance procedure is a procedure spelled out in the contract that explains how any conflict between employees and management is to be resolved. Basically it works as follows: Let's say you've been written up for something and you feel it isn't fair. You talk with your managers but they refuse to do anything about it. You then go to your shop steward (see below) to get help. The steward sits down with you and management and tries to resolve the issue. If it can't be resolved at this meeting, a business agent for the union (see below) will come to the job site to talk with management. If they still cannot resolve the problem to everyone's satisfaction, the business agent will appeal to upper management. If this step fails, both parties may bring in a neutral arbitrator who will issue a final decision.

Q. What's the difference between a shop steward and a business agent?

A. A shop steward is simply a coworker that is appointed by the union to make sure that the contract isn't violated. In addition, s/he is the person to contact when an employee has a problem with management and wants union help. A business agent is an official of the union that handles any problems the shop steward cannot.

Q. Who negotiates the contract?

A. The company and the union put teams together. The company's team is usually comprised of lawyers, local management and upper management officials. The union team usually consists of bargaining unit (see below) employees, union officials/negotiators, and possibly lawyers.

Q. What kind of say do i get in the contract?

A. Before contract talks, the union passes out a form on which you list those things you'd like to see in a contract. The union uses this to base the negotiations on. Furthermore, some members could be on the negotiating team, but at the very least, you get to vote on the contract.

Q. How long do contracts typically last?

A. Usually 2 to 5 years.

Q. If I sign a union card, does that mean I have to vote yes in the election? What if I change my mind?

A. You can vote any way you like in the election whether or not you signed a card. It's secret ballot so no one, neither management nor anyone else, will ever know how you voted. If you do sign a card but later change your mind and want the card back, you can do so by asking for it back in writing.

Q. What are union dues? What are they used for?

A. Union dues are the money you pay to the union to help pay for union support staff, legal costs, negotiation costs, arbitrator's fees, etc. Dues for this Local are normally 2 1/2 times the employee's hourly rate per month, depending on industry, the union, and the amount of money the union members make. You don't pay a cent to the union until an initial contract is ratified by the employees.

Q. What's a "local"?

A. A union is set up kind of like the United States. There is a national government, but many of the decisions that really affect you are on the state level. This is even more true of a union. There is an International union that oversees national operations. But the Local takes care of the contracts, helps employees that want help with managerial problems, etc.

Q. So what does the "International" do?

A. They lobby Congress for changes in laws that would benefit workers, send help to any Locals that need it, coordinate national organizing efforts, etc.

Q. How democratic are unions?

A. The whole process is democratic. You get to decide if you want to sign a card. You decide to vote yes or no for union representation. You vote to ratify the contract or not. Every 3 years you vote on who will be the officials of the Local.

Q. Who decides if we go on strike?

A. Only you and your coworkers can make that decision, not Union staff. You and your coworkers must have at least a two-thirds majority vote by secret ballot before you can strike. Strikes are the weapon of last resort. Sometimes management has so little respect for the employees that they refuse to bargain fairly. Faced with that situation and no alternatives, people may choose to take that step. It's a decision made only by you and your co-workers -- through a two-thirds vote.

If you have any concerns or questions that are still unanswered, please contact us.


  Current Campaigns  
  • The IBT and your Atlanta Committee members, Geoff Maloney and Chris Rogers have been negotiating with Company management since 2010; almost as long as the IBT have been negotiating for the Express Jet CRJ members. 

    The Company has now given us their final, closeout proposal on wages. Neither the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Airline Division, the Business Agents of Local 210 and Local 19, nor your rank-and-file committee members are recommending this be ratified. A detailed letter from your ExpressJet CRJ Negotiating Committee can be found here. A copy of the company’s last, best and final offer can be found here.

    Ballots were mailed on Tuesday, June 20, 2017.  Each member will receive voting instructions and credentials required for voting.  Voting will close on Monday, July 10, and will be counted the same day. 

  • The ‘Let’s Get America Working!’ campaign seeks to restore a dynamic and prosperous middle class to drive economic growth by helping to advance policy decisions that create and maintain good middle-income jobs, guarantee retirement security, expand access to the American Dream, and ensure that the benefits of the ongoing economic recovery are felt by the many, not just the few.

  • We Are eXPOsing XPO’s Global Greed

    XPO Logistics is a top ten global logistics and transportation company with annual revenue of $15 billion and 89,000 employees, another 10,000 workers classified as independent contractors, and thousands more working for firms that subcontract with XPO. We are the REAL workers at XPO Logistics worldwide exposing the truth about the company’s global greed, illegal wage theft, unsafe conditions, and abhorrent and vicious anti-worker, anti-union tactics. 

    This greed includes mistreating former Con-way Freight workers in the United States who are being kept in the dark about terminal closures and layoffs, and the company’s illegal refusal to bargain contracts and denying their workers’ federally protected right to organize. It also includes port, rail and last-mile drivers around the country and in Southern California fighting wage theft in excess of $200 million because they are misclassified as independent contractors and denied the right to form their union. This greed has caused numerous lawsuits and strikes.  Greed also means an unsafe workplace and mistreating its warehouse employees.

    XPO’s greed extends to Europe beginning with breaking its promise to not layoff any workers for at least 18 months. French workers and the unions have been fighting back against XPO’s disrespect, lies and attempts to slash jobs. Similar struggles are taking place in Great Britain, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, and across Europe.

    Join the worldwide struggle now! Get involved with this campaign by joining the Facebook group “XPO Exposed.”

    Together, we can eXPOse the company’s global greed and win fairness, respect and dignity for tens of thousands of XPO employees around the world!

  • This webpage provides information on the Teamsters Union’s legislative advocacy at both the federal and state level as well as our field activity to support those policy positions and to get strong labor candidates elected to office.  Among other resources, you will find our federal legislative scorecard, formal statements of policy position and communications to Capitol Hill,  a weekly update on federal legislative happenings, an overview of bills we are tracking at the state level, and quick links to take action on priority issues.

  • Negotiations for the National Master Automobile Transporters Agreement (NMATA) recently concluded and a tentative agreement has been reached. On Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017 representatives from carhaul local unions met in Detroit to endorse the National Agreement and the Central-Southern Supplement, paving the way for members to vote. The Eastern and Western Supplements were approved in 2016, and will not be re-voted. However, all carhaul members will get to exercise their right to vote on the National Agreement and General Monetary Changes.

    Ballots will be mailed out on or about March 10 and are tentatively scheduled to be counted on March 30.

    The tentative agreement is from September 1, 2015, until May 31, 2021.

  • Workers’ pensions are being endangered by both Congress and those charged with overseeing them. The Teamsters and our members are standing united to say “No!” to cuts and “Yes!” to greater retirement security!

  • On Wednesday, April 5, 2017, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and Southwest Airlines reached an agreement covering more than 300 material specialists. Details of the agreement are available on this webpage, along with materials explaining the components of this contract.

    Ballots will be mailed on or about Wednesday, May 31, 2017. Each member will receive voting instructions and credentials required for voting via mail, along with paper copies of the tentative agreement’s highlights, the tentative agreement, and a copy of the seniority list. Voting will close on June 21, ballots will begin to be counted the same day.  Please continue to check this page for more information, it will be posted as soon as it becomes available.

  • The Teamsters Union represents more than 250,000 members at UPS and UPS Freight. UPS remains an active member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) despite the organization’s anti-worker and anti-union agenda that seeks to undermine and weaken worker protections.

  • This web page provides information on our fight against fast-track legislation. The measure requires Congress to take only a quick up-or-down vote on secret trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and does not allow such agreements to be amended. It limits Congress’ constitutionally mandated oversight of such trade deals and lets others decide what’s best for America. The result is fewer good-paying U.S. jobs and unsafe food and products for Americans. Read more to find out why fast track is the wrong track for Teamsters and America.

  • Workers across the country at FedEx Freight and Con-way Freight are standing shoulder to shoulder to form their unions with the Teamsters to win a more secure future. Momentum is building with a first wave of victories with many more to come.

    There is growing worker resentment toward the companies after years of being treated unfairly. While the companies have suddenly made improvements since workers began to organize, workers know that without a legally binding contract the company can take these things away at any time.

    The unfulfilled promises that have been made to drivers and dockworkers over the past decade are coming back to haunt management.

    But now workers are taking action and standing up for themselves by forming their union. It's a different era now. It's Teamster Time! LIKE our Facebook page, here.

     
 
 
Teamsters Local 991
Copyright © 2017, All Rights Reserved.
Powered By UnionActive™
Visit Unions-America.com!

Top of Page image