Unionization is an often-controversial subject, but also one with substantial practical implications. Many people reflexively oppose unionization precisely because of how politicized it can be, but for people working in certain jobs, a union can provide many potential benefits. Here are just five potential ways you can benefit from forming a labor union at your place of employment:
- Bargaining power
- The most substantial, but hardest to quantify, benefit of forming a labor union comes in the form of bargaining power. Essentially, the idea is that when you are a single employee trying to bargain on your own behalf for better wages or benefits, you do not have much leverage, and are unlikely to succeed. On the other hand, if an entire group of employees is negotiating collectively, they have a lot more power because together they represent a substantial part of the company’s business operations. This makes it harder to dismiss employee demands and makes it less likely that employers will retaliate against an employee for making those demands in the first place.
- Job protection
- By default, most jobs in the United States, including in New York, are considered “at-will” employment, meaning your employer can fire you at any time for any non-discriminatory reason. If you unionize, however, your job will be protected by the terms of a union contract, making it harder to fire you, even if you allegedly committed misconduct. It also means that if you do get into a dispute with your employer over alleged misconduct, you may receive legal assistance from your labor union, rather than needing to secure legal representation on your own.
- Wage protection
- Just as having a union represent you makes it easier to negotiate for wage increases, it also makes it harder for your employer to reduce your wages. This is because your employer will enter a contract with the union, which will determine things like your wages and benefits. The terms of that union contract are legally binding, making it difficult for an employer to reduce your wages for any reason. It also means you have the backing of the union and any contract that is in effect when negotiating for better wages.
- Better benefits
- While federal and New York State law both have certain guarantees about what benefits employees are entitled to, they tend to be far from what employees might want from their employers. And unfortunately, asking for things like sick days or vacation days, health insurance or retirement benefits, or any other additional benefit, is likely to go about as well as asking for a raise on your own. The bargaining power of a union can negotiate for all of this and more on your behalf, however, and legally protect it through a union contract.
- Better work conditions
- Unions can also negotiate on behalf of their members for better work conditions. This could mean forcing your employer to deal with safety issues they have failed to address or improve sanitation at the work site. It could also mean cutting down on practices like mandatory overtime or scheduling people to work consecutive shifts. A union contract can force an employer to clean up their act, literally and figuratively, and can bring an employer to task when they fail to live up to their end of the bargain.
If you are interested in exploring unionization, however, you should speak to an attorney with experience in labor law issues. If you are looking into unionizing, or you already have a union and are in a dispute with your employer, give the Law Offices of Steven Sack a call. Steven Mitchell Sack, the Employee’s Lawyer, is a New York employment lawyer who has considerable experience in handling the many aspects of labor and employment law. To schedule a consultation with New York City employment lawyer Steven Mitchell Sack, call (917) 371-8000.