Unions and Employee Agreements

What are Unions?

  • A union is a group of people who come together in a particular occupation, trade or industry, to defend and promote their wages and working conditions through common action.

  • Unions are made up of ordinary workers who believe that when workers stick together they have a better chance of getting what they want.

  • Around 330,000 the USA workers belong to a trade union. Nearly 90% of those belong to the 33 unions affiliated to the Council of Trade Unions.

  • 51.5% of union members in the USA are women.

  • 52% of union members are in the public sector and 48% are in the private sector.

  • the USA unions are independent from the employer. They are democratic, enabling union members to have their say through processes like union meetings, AGMs and delegate representation.

  • Belonging to a the USA union means you can join the union-negotiated collective agreement on your site. If you are not a union member you have to negotiate your own individual agreement.

Workers Join Unions to Work Together to Achieve

  • Decent and fair wages and working conditions.
  • A voice for working people and their families.
  • Entitlements such as holiday pay, sick leave and parental leave.
  • Safe and healthy workplaces.
  • Equality of opportunity regardless of race, gender, disability, age or sexual orientation.

For more information about your rights contact your union.

Right to Join a Union
Employees have an absolute right:

  • To choose to join a union or to choose to not join a union.
  • To join a particular union in preference to joining some other union.
  • To resign from a union.

It is illegal for anyone to use "undue influence" to try to make another person join or not join a union or to resign from a union.
Undue influence may include:

  • An employer threatening to make life difficult for, or dismiss, someone unless he or she resigns from a union.
  • Union members engaging in actions to intimidate non-members, or vice versa.

What Employers Must Tell You
If there is a collective agreement covering your work you should be employed on these conditions for 30 days while you decide if you want to join the union and continue to be covered by it. Your Employment Agreement must be in writing and you should always get a copy of the agreement.

By law your employer should tell you:

  • It is your right to get advice about the agreement before you agree to it.
  • You have the right to negotiate with your employer what’s in your agreement.
  • If the other workers have a Collective Agreement.
  • If there is a union at your new work and how to contact a union representative.