Here are some misleading items that managers might say to us:
Management: “A union is a third party that will come between us.”
Fact: The union is us—Edgewood Direct Care workers. Our union is a democratic, member-run organization. We will work together to establish our priorities, activities and govern our own organization. Our contract will be reviewed and approved by us.
Management: “The union will make you go on strike.”
Fact: Strikes are our weapon of last resort in contract negotiations. Strikes are rare. More than 95 percent of Teamster contracts are negotiated without a strike. Most Teamster workers have been able to negotiate strong contracts without resorting to strikes.
Management: “If you form a union, you risk losing the benefits and pay raises you already have.”
Fact: It is illegal for your employer to freeze or cut previously scheduled raises or benefits to discourage you from forming a union. Once we’re organized, we’ll lock in our current wages and benefits and then negotiate improvements from there. Everyone will get an opportunity to review our proposed contract before we vote to approve it. Obviously, you’re not going to approve a contract that cuts our wages or benefits. The best way for us to protect and improve our pay and benefits is to form a union.
Management: “The union just wants your dues money.”
Fact: As a newly organized Teamster union, you won’t pay dues until you’ve negotiated and voted to approve your first contract—and decided for yourselves whether it’s worth it. Every serious organization has to have some kind of funding—churches, clubs, sporting leagues, and similar organizations—and unions are no different. Dues pay for the costs of having an organization—contract negotiations, grievances and arbitrations, training for members, legal fees, and other things so no one has to go it alone.
Management: “With a union, you won’t be allowed to talk to your supervisor, you’ll have to go through the union.”
Fact: Teamsters have found that having a union strengthens communication between employees and supervisors. Direct relationships with immediate supervisors continue and you can negotiate to retain any good policy and procedures already in place. The advantage of joining together in a union is that you’re able to make your voice heard at the upper levels of management, where key decisions are made.
Management: “The improvements we’re willing to make right now show that you don’t need a union.”
Fact: It’s great that management is responding to your concerns. It shows that when we join together, our voices are heard. By forming a union, you can make sure this progress is not just short term—we’ll build an ongoing dialogue with management on all our issues. You’ll also have peace of mind when you form a union–since the improvements you agree on will be guaranteed in your union contract.
Keep in mind that it’s normal for some tension to arise when workers start to build a union. But the tension is temporary. After you vote to form a union, management gets used to the idea of us having a voice on the job.
No matter what management says, stay focused on your shared goals—to make this the best possible place to work.
Management: “If you have a problem, then come to us and we can work it out. You don’t need a union to speak for you.”
Fact: It’s great that management wants to talk to you. Once you have formed a union with the Teamsters, you will have a stronger voice working together than you would have standing alone.