Frequently Asked Questions About Being a Union Member

What is a labor union? 

A labor union is a group of workers working at the same worksite that is formed for the purpose of advancing the interests of the workers and addressing the concerns they might have on the job. Basically, a labor union negotiates with the employer on behalf of the workers to provide them with better wages, benefits and working conditions, and protects them from mistreatment or exploitation. 

Why is a union important? 

Statistically, workers who are in a union have better benefits, wages and working conditions than those who aren’t. Labor unions help provide workers with a better quality of life, protections on the job, and representation to ensure that a worker is not unfairly disciplined or terminated. Unions also advocate on the state and local level to get legislation passed that improve job conditions for their members. 

What does union membership pay for? 

Union membership fees are the monetary resources that workers pool together to put toward solving problems in the workplace. It is put towards paying for staff like union representatives, legal fees, offices, contract negotiation costs and other expenses associated with the day-to-day running of our union. It also pays for the legal experts who work with us to negotiate our contracts, the organizers who help us solve problems on the job, and our efforts to support workers who want to join our union.

When workers initially join Local 338, they do not begin paying dues until they have successfully negotiated their first union contract that wins improvements to their jobs.

Do I have the right to join a union?

Yes, the right to form a union is protected under federal and state law. Workers can talk about joining a union and exchange information anywhere and anytime, as long as it does not interfere with their duties on the job. It is illegal for management to treat workers differently for supporting a union, interrogate workers about their union support, or threaten them in any way. 

Who can join Local 338?

Anyone! Local 338 members work in a variety of different job roles in a number of different industries, including grocery, traditional retail, healthcare, nonprofits, pharmacies and drugstores, transportation, and cannabis amongst others. 

Why does management often oppose joining a union?

Without a union, management has all the power and is able to make every decision on their own, without any input from workers. With a union, workers have a united voice and are able to participate in the decisions that affect wages, benefits and working conditions. When workers are part of a union, management has to share power and decision-making, and this can often be difficult for management to accept. In order to stop workers from forming a union, management will often try to intimidate, divide and confuse workers. Management often hires high-priced consultants that spread misinformation and try to divert workers’ attention from the job improvements that need to be made. Workers have learned that if they stay united and do not let management’s scare tactics distract them, they will be successful in forming their union and winning job improvements.

Who can I speak to about joining a union?

If you are ready to take the first step towards forming a union, our Organizing Team can be reached at 516-294-1338 ext. 1400.