Frequently Asked Questions
What do Unions do?
A Union’s primary objective is to secure for its members strong contracts that provide job security, good wages, benefits and fair working conditions across the board. Once a contract has been negotiated the Union enforces all the provisions of the contract. Additionally, the Union provides a multitude of other services to its membership, much of which is described within this website.
How do you Organize with the Teamsters?
Employees who desire to join the Teamsters Union must sign a “Union Authorization Card”. When the required number of employees sign the cards they are then forwarded, in most cases, to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB then schedules and conducts a secret ballot election. In some cases, when a majority of workers sign cards, the company will recognize the Union without the need for a secret ballot election.
When the Union is certified, the company is required by law to bargain in good faith, over wages, benefits and working conditions. The laws governing public sector and private sector employees may vary, as further discussed within this web-site.
If I sign an Authorization Card must I have to vote yes once the secret ballot election is conducted? What if I change my mind?
The Teamsters Union is committed to organizing workers that desire Teamster Representation. Organizing is not about holding a vote, it is about gaining an effective voice in the workplace for the benefit of employees. When the NLRB conducts a Union Election it is done by secret ballot. No one has any right to know how you voted, and the decision on how to vote will be yours only.
How does the Union work out problems with Management?
Typically through the Grievance procedure. The contract spells out what your rights are, and the Grievance procedure explains how workplace conflicts and contract violations are to be properly resolved.
When Management engages in unfair conduct or violates any provision of the contract, there are steps spelled out in the contract on how to resolve various problem(s). You should first talk with your supervisor to address the problem. If Management refuses to correct the problem, you should then approach your Teamster Union Steward and ask for assistance. The Steward will sit down with you and Management in an attempt to resolve the issue/problem. If the problem still cannot be resolved at this step, your designated Union Business Agent will become involved and will contact the company to discuss the issue further. If the problem still cannot be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction, the Business Agent will appeal to Upper Management. If this step fails, both parties bring in a neutral Arbitrator to hear the evidence and testimonies. The Arbitrator will then administer fair and final resolution to the problem. It must be noted that every Teamster Contract contains its own specific Grievance procedure which explains the process of addressing and resolving work-place problems and issues.
What are Union Stewards and Business Agents?
A Union Steward is one of your co-workers who acts as a Representative of the Union in the workplace. The Local Union By-Laws stipulate procedures for electing Union Stewards. However, the Principal Officer of the Union maintains the authority to appoint and/or remove Stewards, he also determines how many Stewards will be assigned to each job facility location. The Steward’s job is to make certain that your company lives up to the stipulations contained within your Union Contract. When there is a problem with Management and you need Union help, your first step should be to seek consultation from your Union Steward, his job is to assist you with all Union related issues.
A Business Agent is a full time employee of the Local Union appointed by the Principal Officer to handle any and all workplace problems that the Union Steward cannot. Your designated Business Agents job is to assist you with all Union related issues.
What is a “Bargaining Unit”?
A Bargaining Unit is the designated group/classification of company employees that have been deemed eligible to vote for the Union and remain members of the Union.
Who negotiates your contract?
The Teamsters and the company each choose their own negotiators. The Company’s Team is usually comprised of company lawyers and upper management officials. The Union’s Team usually consists of top Teamster officials who are expert negotiators along with Union Labor Attorneys, when needed, and of course rank and file committee members who remain involved throughout the entire negotiating process.
What kind of input will I have regarding the Union Contract?
Before Contract Negotiations begin the Union will conduct a Contract Proposal Meeting. The purpose of the Contract Proposal Meeting is to gather all of your concerns and desires related to a new contract. Once a new Contract Proposal has been negotiated, it must be submitted to the entire membership for ratification. If the majority of the members vote to approve the proposal, it will be deemed ratified. If the majority of the members do not approve the proposal, it shall be deemed rejected and your Union Negotiating Team will request that the parties go back to the bargaining table in an effort to secure a Proposal/Agreement that is in fact acceptable to the membership.
What is the duration of a Union Contract?
Typically, between 3 and 5 years.
What are Union dues? What are they used for?
Union dues are the modest fees issued to the Union which cover the costs of Union Employees, Support Staff, Union Legal Counsel, Negotiation Costs, Arbitrator’s Fees, Etc.
What is a “Local”?
The Teamsters Union is a National Body which consists of many affiliated Teamster Local Unions. Each Local Union maintains individual autonomy. Most decisions are made at the Local Union level.
So what does the “Teamster International” do?
The Teamster International’s many responsibilities include: Lobbying Congress for laws that benefit workers, Providing Assistance to all affiliated Teamster Local Unions,
Coordinating National Organizing Efforts, etc.
How Democratic are Unions?
The whole process is open and Democratic. You decide if you want to sign a Union Authorization Card. You decide whether or not to vote “yes” in regard to joining the Union. You decide which co-workers you want on your Negotiating Team. You decide what you want in your new contract. You vote on the contract once it has been negotiated. You vote on who will be your Union Steward. You vote on who will be the Officers of your Local Union.
What advantages will I have if I join the Teamsters Union?
The Teamsters Union provides you with the technical “know-how” and economic strength needed to bargain effectively with your employer regarding your wages, benefits, working conditions and job security. Your employer hires a lawyer to protect the Company’s interests. Employees join a Union to protect their interests. You are working for a big company, you need a big Union!
What does a Truck Drivers’ Union have in common with employees in other occupations?
The Teamsters Union represents workers in every conceivable industry, profession, craft and trade. In the Public sector as well as Private sectors. The Teamsters Union is no longer only a Truck Drivers Union, less than one-fourth of our total membership falls under this classification. The Teamsters Union is the strongest and most effective Union in America representing workers in virtually all Industries!
Your employer will claim that the Union will be run by outsiders. Who really runs the Teamsters Union?
As previously stated, the Teamsters Union is made up of many different affiliated Local Unions. Each Local Union enjoys Local Union autonomy, and its members are usually employed within a particular area or jurisdiction. The members of each respective Local Union run affairs democratically and elect Local Union Officers and Delegates by secret ballot elections. Members decide important Local Union policies and actions by majority vote(s).
You will vote for your own rules and run the affairs within your local Union. The Union constitution guarantees you a vote and representation. Your employer hires expert lawyers to represent the company and therefore employees need skilled Union Representatives who will look out for your best interests by working aggressively to win better wages, benefits and working conditions. The Union gives you the strength you need to negotiate with the employer on fair terms. That’s what your employer fears!
Can you be forced to go on strike?
Nobody can force you to go on strike, under most circumstances, there will never be a strike initiated by the Union unless you vote for it. Over ninety nine percent (99%) of all contracts between Unions and employers were signed last year without any strikes, there were fewer strikes than at any time since World War II. If the employer bargains in good faith there will never be a strike at your company. The Unions only objective is to gain a fair and equitable deal for you without having to even put forward the threat of a strike.
What about Union Dues?
Yes, the Union charges nominal dues. But why is your employer worried about your dues? The truth is your employer knows that higher Union Wages will certainly cover the cost of your dues many times over! However, employers will never admit to this fact. Remember, no organization can represent you without finances. Job security, good wages, benefits, fairness, respect and dignity on the job are well worth paying Union dues for.
When will I be required to pay dues?
You will start paying dues only after a contract has been successfully negotiated and approved by you, the employees/members. Your dues payments will begin only after you get the raise in your pay check.
Are Union dues deductible on Income Tax Returns?
Yes, your dues are deductible for income tax purposes.
Will women enjoy the same advantages as the men?
By all means! That’s what the Teamsters Union is all about, fairness! The Teamsters do not believe in any type of discrimination. Under a Teamster contract, women will enjoy the same rights and privileges entitled to all Teamster Members.
Can the Company be closed down because the Union comes in?
Employers usually claim that they cannot compete if they are obligated to pay higher wages but thousands of organized Union companies are competing very successfully right now. Your employer knows very well that it will remain in business because a substantial amount of money has been invested in the company and the company is their livelihood. The company is just trying to scare you! Employers tend to say that you will always have to accept the substandard wages and working conditions that they offer. The Union says things can be better!