Why should workers organize a union?

There are many reasons that differ from worker to worker, but the common thread is that  workers want the better pay and benefits that come with negotiating as part of a union, a stronger voice at work, and respect and fair treatment on the job.

How do workers become a union?

A majority of you and your coworkers must sign union authorization cards indicating your support for a union. Signing a card authorizes the union to represent you for the purpose of collective bargaining. The cards will be used to obtain a secret ballot election or to show a neutral third party person that a majority of employees want union representation. Management will not know who did or did not sign cards.

How does having a union impact my contract?

A union contract is a legal document that spells out your rights, your job security and your benefits.  When workers come together and vote for a union, they elect a negotiating committee from among their co-workers to represent them during negotiations.  The negotiating committee then draws up a contract proposal, based on meetings, discussions and worker survey results, to present to management. You can negotiate for any and all reasonable items that affect you on your job. Contracts usually last between 3 to 5 years.

In order for the contract to be ratified, a majority of the workers voting need to accept the proposal.  If workers feel they haven’t gained enough in the contract, they can reject the contract when it is time to vote.  If a majority vote against the contract, the negotiating committee will go back to the bargaining table, or ask the employees to vote on whether or not to strike. Strikes, which require a two-thirds majority vote, are rare and only occur as a last resort.  Managers, union leaders, security guards, etc., are not allowed to vote on a contract.

Will I have to pay dues?

Like members of most organizations, we pay dues.  Our dues bring large rewards in pay raises, benefits, job security, representation and working conditions.  The added pay and benefits workers receive through belonging to the union far outweigh the cost of union dues.  The dues go to pay for organizers, legal assistance, support staff, rent, materials, etc., which are all needed to maintain good contracts and adequate representation.  However, no one pays dues until workers have voted to accept their first contract.

No one pays any dues until a contract is negotiated, you review it and vote to accept it. You get to see the results before paying any dues. Government figures show that on average, union workers get almost 30 percent higher pay and are 50 percent more likely to have employer-provided health insurance—not to mention other negotiated benefits like vacation, sick leave, pensions, seniority rights, etc.

Is there a risk in supporting the union?

Whether or not your support is public is up to you. It is illegal for management to grill anyone about union activity or to threaten, harass, or discriminate against anyone because of union activity. Workers attempting to form a union have legal rights and protections under the National Labor Relations Act. For detailed information, click here for information on workplace rights.

If workers have a union, who decides what is proposed in our contract?

You do. You and your co-workers meet with union staff negotiators to discuss and decide what to propose for your contract. You elect a negotiating committee from the employees to represent you in bargaining, alongside a union staff negotiator. Your negotiating committee then meets with management representatives in contract negotiations. Local 1428 reimburses negotiating committee members for any lost work time to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to participate.

Will I have to go on strike?

Whether or not to go on strike is a decision made by you and your co-workers.  A strike is not authorized unless two-thirds of the workers voting on the contract vote to go on strike.

Strikes are uncommon.  The US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 99% of all contracts are negotiated without strikes.  A strike is really only even a possibility if management refuses to negotiate honestly and fairly. Of the thousands of contracts negotiated by UFCW members across the country, less then one percent ever reach a strike situation.

Why UFCW Local 1428?

Local 1428 is a growing union with over 5,000 members mostly in grocery stores, drug stores, pharmacies, and food processing plants. We are dedicated to advancing the rights and living standards of all workers. Local 1428 represents many retail employees at Vons, Stater Bros., Albertsons’, CVS, and X among others. We are part of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, with 1.3 million members across the United States and Canada. Nearly one million members work in the retail industry. It’s powerful to have that many members in your industry on your side.

Will the Union provide more job security?

Yes. A union contract will provide protection against unfair management decisions to reduce hours, layoff employees, or discipline and/or write up employees without just cause.

For example, Local 1428’s contracts ensure just cause, which states an employee can only be written up or disciplined for a justifiable reason. If an employee feels they have been disciplined unfairly, Local 1428 contracts give employees the right to file a grievance and, if needed, have their case presented to an independent arbitrator.

What is the main difference in having a union contract?

With a union, you’ll have a written contract which spells out and guarantees your rights; a real grievance procedure; job security; guaranteed wage rates; and a timeline for pay increases and benefits. It’s written down in black and white—a legally binding contract that cannot be changed at management’s whim.