8 Myths About Unions

1) We're all Democrats

· Incorrect - Unions are as diverse as any other group of people with differing opinions on a variety of topics. Many if not most union workers have families and conservative views in some areas and more progressive views on others. Most local unions are party agnostic, and focus on siding with candidates that support American workers and a pathway to the middle class. We are for the rights, dignity of working people, signified by fair pay for a fair days work, and we support politicians who believe in that, regardless of political party.

2) You Have to Pay to go to work

· Wrong - The fact is that belonging to any organization with collective benefits requires that you pay dues. Any club, team, gym, or professional organization will require dues of some sort or they wouldn't exist. The good news is that with your union dues, you get the benefit of collectively bargained benefits, retirement, and pension options that most employers cannot match. In a union, your benefits are above and beyond what you take home on your check rather than having to pay for benefits that are "offered" with a non-union contractor. Union dues are miniscule in comparison to what the union member gets in return.

3) Unions are Un-American

· Not True - Every single union function we've ever attended…every. single. one…commences with members standing, removing their hats, placing their hand over hearts and repeating the Pledge of Allegiance in unison, followed closely by leading the group in giving thanks to God in form of a prayer. Unions have so many members that have served in the United States Military that there are veterans chapters in some local union chapters. Union meetings are among of the most patriotic events you can ever attend and every union member we've ever met is proud to be an American. Most go out of their way to buy American-made goods to support American workers. The right to band together with one another for the betterment of pay, working conditions, training, and safety, and to belong to a cause greater than each individual member is about as patriotic as it gets.

4) We're lazy and take breaks all the time

· Laughable - Another ridiculous accusation, often made by non-union employers. Union workers are some of the hardest workers in the industry. Most CBA employer contracts allow for brief breaks in order that you get the proper respite to stay safe on the job. A tired worker is far more likely to be injured on the job and breaks are a way to ensure the worker is taken care of. The apprenticeship training model that undergirds most unions focuses not only on the training and expertise necessary to learn the skills needed to be an expert in your trade, but also the safety protocols necessary for members to arrive, work, and leave the jobsite as safely as possible. It's why union job sites are known to be safer than non-union sites as a general rule.

5) You get laid off a lot

· No more than anyone else in Construction -Construction of any sort is the only job where you are working your way out of a job the moment you start. Projects are finite by definition. They begin by breaking ground and end with a certificate of occupancy so layoffs are an inevitable part of the industry and not specific to the unions. Most union contractors are booked out several years in advance so employees move from project to project, but the good thing is that upon completion of a project and layoff, union members can come to the hall, sign the book, and be referred out on another jobsite immediately without having to go through the rigmarole of finding another company. Plus with a union journeyman's ticket you can go to any number of other markets and go to work immediately.

6) You don't need to join a union if you work for a good company

· Many companies who are signatory to a union are good employers BECAUSE of the union. There are standards and bylaws in place specifically to protect the worker from being exploited. The standardize apprenticeship track, training protocols, and classification hierarchy ensure that the employers know exactly what he or she is getting in terms of work capacity and expertise and it makes bidding work more accurate with less change-orders and overruns.

7) Unions go on strike

· Nope. Strikes are an extremely rare occurrence. In fact many unions in the building trades have no-strike clauses in their constitution. There is a standard arbitration process that allows for most employee/employee disputes to be resolved in an expedient manner. Only when employers are treating workers unfairly. If workers do not band together for the rights and fair compensation of their members, no one will.

8) If you're a part of an effort to organize, your employer will fire you.

· Not true. There are protections in place that allow you to freely organize without the threat of retribution. If someone tells you that you'll be fired for simply exploring your right to organize together as employees, they are in violation of the law. The Pro-Act will also help ensure that workers are allowed to freely organize without pressure or intimidation from their employer, even in right-to-work states.

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