7 Reasons To Join A Union
Your job and rights as a worker must always be respected and protected. Thankfully, there are options available to you. Read our blog to find out more.
A union, also known as a labour union, is an organization that acts as a mediator and go-between for its members and the businesses that employ them. Their purpose is to give workers more power in their employment and negotiation for happier, safer, and fair working conditions, as well as other benefits that employees are entitled to.
Unions play a vital role in many workplaces, and they are there to help resolve issues being voiced by employees; they’re essentially like your parents going into bat for you if you’re being bullied at school. It’s their job to sit down with the principal and get it sorted so that you can return to school without any problems.
Some of the key issues that unions deal with involve:
- Breaches of workplace laws
- Breaches of safety laws
- Breaches of discrimination laws
- Employer’s meeting obligations
- Advocating for downtrodden employees
- General bargaining
Different types of unions
There many different kinds of unions for different workplaces, but it’s important to note that not all unions function the same or offer the same level of support and advantages. There are overarching union categories such as labor, industrial, and business unions; most workplaces such as retail, steelwork, and performing arts fall under these bigger categories. In America 2020, there were over 14 million wage and salary earners belonging to unions. Each union works under the same guiding principles, but they aren’t all the same—they don’t all offer the same perks or benefits, so make sure to do your research when looking to join one. The last thing that you want is to hop onto a bandwagon taking you nowhere.
How do you find a union?
As an example, if you’re a welder, then joining a welders union will be very beneficial for you, as the jobs can be quite dangerous and is physically demanding. So, you’ve got your certificate, you’ve done your apprenticeship, and now you’re working as a full-time certified welder. If you want to join a union to protect your rights as a worker, you’ll need to reach out to either an ironwork union, a boilermaker union, or a pipefitter union. Most welders will fall into one of these three categories, and you simply need to research unions of this kind in your area to find out which one you best belong to.
Why join a union?
While most people have their own experiences with unions, overall, they can do a lot of good for your work situation and your peace of mind. The following are seven reasons why you might benefit from joining a union:
Unions want to help. They want to take care of you and the position that you’re in professionally. They will defend your rights as a worker and help to ensure your job security. This means that they can intervene on your behalf if you’ve been unfairly let go or underpaid and act as expert representation for you. Your union rep should be a trusted advisor, whom you can turn to when you’re in need of help. They exist to help protect you against any kinds of workplace hazards, such as accidents, illness, injury, or unemployment. They can also secure retirement benefits for you, ensuring security even after you’ve left work.
Having extra protection, an extra set of eyes on a contract, or simply someone who knows the rules on your side, is sure to bring you a stronger sense of security in the position that you hold.
Being a member of a union is like having a large group of friends. There is security in numbers, and unions provide a space for employees from different workplaces to come together as equals. Union members have meetings and gatherings, and are made to feel like part of the solution—not just the catalyst of a problem. A sense of camaraderie and belonging will bring the best out of any worker.
Joining a union also means that you’re taking a stand, not only for yourself and the millions of workers, but for future generations as well. What you do now with your fellow union members will set the tone for the future. Your community is not just benefiting you, but your children, their children, and so on.
Staying up to date
Unions will usually stay on top of all the latest news, including any changes in legislation or upcoming important updates that employees should be aware of. Unions will hold meetings, and offer to send out bulletins pertaining to things going on within the union; this may include any leadership or membership changes, or news topics that could affect the workplace.
There are some huge changes that go on within the government in terms of legislation that so often just fly under the radar; most of these things can and do affect you and your job, but you might never even know about it. While it’s important to stay on top of current events and the news—especially anything that has to do with your work, your union should also be there to keep their ears to the ground and flag any important information on your behalf.
You can’t be expected to know all the rules and rights that you’re entitled to as a worker. Sure, you can guess, and there are things that should go without saying in terms of discrimination, equality, and equity, but when common sense fails, unions can step in. They know the rules, they know what you’re entitled to, and they are there to champion equal rights and pay in the workplace. They can step up and question any display of discrimination against gender, race, sexual orientation, or disability. Unions also promote maternity rights, as well as flexible working and paternity pay. They care about shared care responsibility; they care whether or not you’re being treated fairly, and will offer to step in if your rights as a worker or a human being are not being respected and upheld.
If you’re being underpaid, or not receiving proper compensation for overtime efforts and work, unions can help with this too. On average, union workers earn more than non-union workers; this is especially true of those in trade or labour unions. Unions can work together to bargain for better salaries, holidays, health insurance, pensions, sick pay overtime policies, and more. In fact, more than 75% of union workers have great healthcare benefits from their employers, but less than half of non-union workers can say the same. Non-union workers were reported to be earning only 84% of what union workers made in 2020. It’s your union’s job to hammer out any negotiations with your employers, and to make sure that you’re receiving the amount of pay you deserve; they may push for more depending on your situation or the overall situation for workers in your position or sector.
While you may have to pay union fees to utilize the benefits of a union, these fees can be easily deducted from your tax, so the upfront cost isn’t really that big of a deal. In places such as Australia, for most registered unions, fees are 100% tax-deductible, so you can reduce how much you pay in tax overall if you’re a union member. This means that you could actually be saving money by becoming a union member. Just make sure to do your research on your chosen union, and to ask them about the options that they have available regarding taxes.
Saving money on tax-deductible fees is not the only benefit of joining a union. Unions offer their members some great perks, such as low-cost banking loan options, new car discounts, care-hire discounts, superannuation benefits, and more. Unions tend to make their money not just from your fees, but through different partnerships as well, so they can hook you up with cool benefits like free movie tickets or financial advice services.
On top of these perks, being a member also allows you some control over the leaderships and goings on in the union itself, as you’ll have the right to vote on various industrial actions and union elections, as well as to attend meetings and annual conferences. Unions can also provide promotion and training for workers to consistently better themselves and their skills in the workplace.
While not everyone agrees on the intervention of unions, it is a very personal decision to make. They might not all be useful, but for the most part, unions offer a sense of security that you just can’t get on your own. They are there as negotiators, mediators, and agents who can bargain for better options and opportunities for you in the workplace. Unions are not simply there to make money from you, and they show this by offering tax-deductible fees. If you’re just stepping out into the workforce, or are looking for some extra help in being promoted, earning more money, or simply protecting your rights as a worker, then it might be the perfect time to look for a union.