Definition of 'Labor Union'
According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, the definition of a ‘Labor Union’ is; An organization intended to represent the collective interests of workers in negotiations with employers over wages, hours and working conditions.
But, there is so much more to a good labor union than just a definition. A good labor union consists of a membership that is united in their goals and interests. Therefore, the first eight words of the definition, “An organization intended to represent the collective interests” must be considered. In order for the organization to represent the ‘collective interests’ of the workers, those interests must be shared and the interests must be collective. In other words, the members must be united in their interests. The unity of interests requires communications and participation among the members.
The other point of interest is the list of items to be negotiated. Wages, or compensation which includes things like pay scales, benefits such as a medical plans, dental plans, vision plans, retirement plans, and etceteras. Also to be negotiated are the working hours, overtime rates and when they apply, break periods, lunches and other important interests. Then we have the last item mentioned in the definition; “working conditions”. Working conditions would include a safe, healthy, productive and secure environment free from harassment by management and/or other employees we must work with. Safe in the work we do and safe that our jobs are not threatened.
All of this doesn’t just happen. It must be accomplished by the work of a successful union. However, a union can only exist if it has a membership of united members that are actively participating together to accomplish their collective interests and goals. We are failing miserably at this my brothers and sisters. We need to do better. We must be united or we don’t really have a union. And, in order to be successful at what we do, we must work harder and have more participation. It doesn’t work out well for us to have members that do not participate. The non-participants leave it up to a few to do all the work. Those few have no idea what all the members want and there is too much for the limited participants to do. Since the group is not united, it becomes more difficult, thus setting the membership up for failure at negotiation time. On top of that, the non-participants seem to be the loudest and unhappiest complainers after the contract is settled because of the hard work of the few participating members.
Well here is our chance to do better. Our union’s officer’s terms are ending this December. It is time to elect (or re-elect) officers. At our next general membership meeting to he held on November 06, 2013, we will nominate members for election. If you are unhappy with how things are (or are not) being done, now is your time to become involved and elect a new board. Rather than be uninvolved only to be unhappy and complain later, take your opportunity to make a change. On the other hand, if you are happy with the way things are being done, get involved and re-elect the current officers. Either way, get involved. It is only a union if we all are united and participate.
Unions have been around for a long time. They were more necessary years ago then they are now. However, some companies seem to continue to require a group of united workers to keep them fair and honest. The more participants we have in our membership, the more successful we will be in accomplishing our goals at negotiation time. But we need to start now. We need a strong membership if we are to be successful at negotiating with our employer over wages, hours and working conditions.
This website has a “Message Board” available to members. The “Message Board” can be found under the “Members Resources” tab. It was included on the site to help us communicate thoughts and ideas. It can provide a way for those that have difficulty getting to all of the general membership meetings to participate. Take advantage of the message board to become involved. Use common sense and don’t abuse the message board and it can become a valuable tool for all of us.