What is a Union?
An organization of workers joined together:
- for a common purpose
- for mutual aid and protection
- to engage in concerted activity and collective bargaining
- to elevate their conditions of life and labor
Why are Unions Important?
Unions are important because they help set the standards for education, skill levels, wages, working conditions and quality of life for workers. When unions negotiate wages and benefits, they are generally superior to what non-union workers receive.
Most union contracts provide far more protections that state and federal laws. For example, in many states there is no legal right for workers to take a break More importantly, most states follow a legal doctrine called "employment at will" and non-union workers can be fired for reasons that might be arbitrary or for no reason at all.
Unions also work to establish laws improving job conditions for their members through legislation at the national, state and local level. This ultimately benefits all workers. The 8-hour work day is an example of a positive change won by unions that affects everyone.
Your Local Union
As a member of your IUOE local union you have specific rights and obligations.
The members run our local unions by electing their own officers every three years. You have one vote in that election, just as every other member has. Candidates for office must meet certain requirements to be eligible for election. (Registered apprentices cannot be candidates.)
Your local union leadership is responsible for negotiating your contract and having it approved by the membership and/or the members who are covered by its conditions. Your contract sets your wages, fringe benefits and conditions of work. It spells out the grievance procedures that must be followed should your employer violate the contract. A copy of your contract is available from the local union office.
A democratic union can do an effective job only with the support of each individual member. This support is not only paying your dues but attending meetings and taking an active part in upholding the local union contracts, supporting local programs and the rare, but occasionally necessary, strike.
What your Local Union does for YOU
- Negotiaties and enforces contracts
- Settles your grievances and job-site problems
- Dispatches workers to job sites
- Ensures jobs belonging to engineers are staffed by engineers
- Sponsors and maintains benefit plans:
- Apprenticeship training and up-grading programs
- Health insurance
- Life Insurance
- Pension for retiree and disabled
- And other benefits
- Keeps you informed, holds meetings
- Supports fair labor legislation such as: safety, social security, worker's compensation, unemployment compensation, etc.
- Acts in your interest with the community as well as the management
- Sponsors social affairs for the membership such as bull roast, picnics, dances, etc.
Your Local Union Collective Bargaining Agreement
A major function of your local union is collective bargaining - a process by which unions and employers negotiate terms of employment in a contract.
The contract is a written agreement that the employer and union agree to enforce.
Each local has contracts covering various segments of the industry. The contracts are approved by the members who are covered by the contracts' conditions.
The collective bargaining agreement covers all aspects of the work:
- fringe benefits (health and welfare, pension, training, etc.)
- hours of work
- referral procedure
- grievances and arbitration
- jurisdiction, and many other benefits and conditions
The wage provisions of the agreement specify how much the employees are to be paid for each job classification and type of work, and in some contracts, location of work
- These include provisions for paid holidays, paid vacations, overtime rates, hours of work, and in many cases, minimum daily or weekly pay guarantees
- They also include fringe benefits such as health and welfare plan, pension fund, apprenticeship fund and training fund
Your local union's enforcement of the grievance procedure is the most important part of the contract.
- Without enforcement, the written agreement is ineffective
- This protects members from arbitrary acts of the supervisor
- Enforcement also ensures members are given just cause for discharge and discipline
Why Attend Union Meetings?
- TO FIND OUT WHAT IS GOING ON
- TO HAVE A VOICE IN LOCAL UNION AFFAIRS
- FOR INFORMATION ON CONTRACTS, UPCOMING JOBS, TRAINING
- STATUS OF HEALTH, WELFARE, PENSION AND OTHER BENEFIT PROGRAMS
- GENERAL INFORMATION FROM OTHER MEMBERS
- TO VOICE YOUR CONCERNS
- TO SUPPORT ONE ANOTHER
What is a Good Member?
With rights come responsibilities. As a member of the International Union of Operating Engineers, it is your obligation to:
Be a productive and efficient worker.
Produce the highest-quality work possible - work we all can be proud of.
Arrive at work on time and work all hours asked of you.
Call in to the job site if you must be late or absent.
Look presentable and act professional on the job site.
Follow your union contract.
Adhere to the contractor's rules and regulations on the job; the contractor is your employer.
Respect your fellow workers and help them achieve a safe, secure workplace.
Participate in skill-upgrade classes and utilize training centers to develop and keep your skills at the highest level.
Know your union hiring hall, dispatch system or how to get a job if you are laid off. Make sure your telephone number and address are up to date.
Hold your union in the highest regard.
Know how to contact your job steward and/or your business agent or local union for answers to questions or help with problems.
Attend your local union meetings. This is the place to get information on your union.
Pay dues and assessments on time. Like any organization, a union needs some funds to operate.
Buy Union made and American products whenever possible.
Be an active citizen and an informed voter.