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What is a Union?

What is a union?

A union is a group of employees who join together within a company to bargain collectively for better wages, stronger benefits and safer working conditions.


What do unions do?

A union's primary objective is to secure good contracts for its members and to enforce the provisions of that contract.  The union also administers some of the contract's important benefits directly.  Often these include health plans, pensions and labor/management partnerships and trusts.


How democratic are unions?

The whole process is open and democratic.  You decide if you want to sign an authorization card.  You decide whether to vote "yes" on joining the union.  You decide which co-workers you want on your negotiating team.  You decide what to tell your negotiators that you want in a contract.  You vote on the contract once it's negotiated. You vote on who will be your shop steward.  You vote on who will be the officers of your local.


So what does the “International” do?

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters is located in Washington, D.C.  Their responsibilities include among others; lobbying Congress for laws that benefit workers, sending help to locals that need it and coordinating national organizing efforts.


What are union dues? What are they used for?

Union dues are the money you pay to the union to help pay for support staff, legal costs, negotiation costs, arbitrator's fees, etc.


What’s a “local”?

The Teamsters have a structure that includes a national body, intermediaries, and local unions.  Most decisions are made at the state and local union level.

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