When we refer to “organizing” workers we are referring to the process of turning a group of individual workers into a cohesive group that can effectively represent their common interests with their employer. This is what people outside the union movement might call "unionizing."
The goal is to apply the rules of labor legislation in order for the workers to be recognized as a unit and to compel the employer to negotiate a binding contract governing their terms and conditions of employment.
In addition to your right to seek union representation under the NLRA the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act includes a “Bill of Rights of Members of Labor Organizations”. We believe that these rights are not only critical to protect union members but also because the exercise of these rights by the membership makes your union stronger. The LMRDA protects your right to:
When the IATSE organizes workers and executes a contract on their behalf, whether they are given a new local union charter or admitted into membership in existing local unions those workers are admitted as full journeyperson members with all of the rights and responsibilities of all other members.
Our organizing policy is to promote the most open and robust debate possible. That is what gets you the best deal. We encourage workers to participate in our organizing and bargaining committees, to draft proposals and set goals for their contract and participate in all negotiation sessions. We also encourage you to discuss and debate among yourselves so that the contract best reflects your priorities.
International dues are currently $50.00 per quarter. They are voted on every four years at our convention. When chartering a new local for workers in a geographic area or craft that is currently unrepresented those workers determine what their local union dues and initiation fees will be. Workers being organized into existing local unions pay the same local dues as the other members.
Most employers focus on the issue of “union discipline” in order to scare their employees away from organizing. What they consistently fail to mention is that while the unions protect their members’ right to a fair hearing the employers deny that same right to their employees at work. The IATSE Constitution and By-Laws requires strict adherence to procedural fairness in order to protect members from unwarranted discipline by local unions.
We not only share our contracts with workers who are seeking to organize their workplace but we expect them to participate with us in drafting and negotiating their own contract.
The strongest unions are ones whose members are most engaged and active in all functions of the organization. The IATSE promotes that engagement from the very beginning of every one of our organizing campaigns so, when we achieve a contract, the workers own the union.
Once internal union remedies have been exhausted union members have the right to take their grievances to court whether they are suing the union or another party. It is the member’s right and responsibility to demand accountability from their union and its leadership.The strongest union is the one whose officers are most accountable to its members.
The IATSE National Health Plans administer two health insurance programs, Plan A and Plan C. There are some locals that administer their own plans. Under IATSE contracts, employers are required to contribute to these plans on behalf of their employees. These contributions are above and beyond wages. Plan A is a traditional plan best suited for full-time or staff employees. Plan C is designed specifically to address the needs of freelance employees.
Politicians on both sides of the political spectrum are exploring the possibility of reducing Social Security. Employers are underfunding their pension plans - when they can’t terminate them altogether - and forcing workers to pay for their own retirement. Maintaining their current quality of life is likely to be increasingly challenging for the next generation of retirees. The IATSE believes people who’ve spent a lifetime working deserve a dignified and secure retirement. In order to ensure that, the IATSE National Benefit Plans administer pension and annuity funds. (There are some locals that administer their own plans.)
HOW TO ORGANIZE
The IATSE believes that the best organizers are the workers themselves. At every step of the organizing process, we emphasize the active participation of the workers seeking union representation. This is essential not only to winning an election, but more importantly, to getting the contract you deserve. The first step is to talk to your co-workers. Do you share common concerns about your jobs? Is your employer unwilling to discuss or rectify your concerns? If so, you will want to gauge the interest of your co-workers in exploring organizing as a means to address your problems. If there is interest, we will send a representative to meet with as many workers as are willing to talk with us.
FORMING THE INSIDE ORGANIZING COMMITTEE
Every successful organizing drive involves an effective organizing committee comprised of workers seeking union representation. The organizing committee helps to educate the IATSE representative about the concerns that initiated your interest as well as whatever apprehensions there are about moving forward. The committee will also disseminate information, provided by the union organizer, to the group. This back-and-forth communication is a constant part of the organizing process. It is important that the committee represent a cross-section of the workers. Each job classification and location should have at least one representative.
Workers are entitled to know how the organizing process works and what to expect during the campaign. It is only when everyone understands the commitment involved in successful organizing that we can be confident of their support. Our representatives are fully versed in the laws governing organizing on both the state and federal levels. We will make every effort to ensure that you and your co-workers completely understand the process so that you can make a fully informed decision about moving forward. At the same time, you will educate the IATSE representative about your employer’s operation so that we can identify as clearly as possible which positions and how many workers are in the bargaining unit we’re trying to organize.
Once the organizing committee is formed and functioning and the bargaining unit is identified, we request that all workers sign Authorization Cards as an indication of their support for the union. Authorization Cards are completely confidential. Your employer will never know whether you have signed one or not. In fact, it is illegal for them to ask you if you have. If a significant majority of the workers in the bargaining unit sign authorization cards we will file a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) requesting that they conduct a secret ballot election to determine whether a majority of workers want to be represented by the union in order to negotiate a contract. A simple majority is required to win the election. As an alternative, we can request that the employer voluntarily recognize the union. If the employer voluntarily agrees, then we submit the authorization cards to a neutral third party who compares them to an employee list to determine if the union has a majority. This streamlines the process.
THE ELECTION PETITION
Once we have collected a majority of Authorization Cards, we file them with the NLRB. The union and the employer need to agree on several elements of the election. What is the composition of the bargaining unit? – that is, what job classifications are covered? Who is eligible to vote? – sometimes elections involve part-time workers, full-time workers or a combination. Usually a formula is applied to determine how frequently a part-time worker must be employed to be eligible to vote. We also need to agree on the place and time for the election. It usually occurs at the workplace but it can be conducted by mail. If the union and the employer can’t agree on all the elements of the election, the NLRB will conduct a hearing to explore the areas of disagreement. After the conclusion of the hearing, they will determine the terms of the election.
Once the union wins the election, the Inside Organizing Committee becomes the Bargaining Committee. In conjunction with the IATSE representative, the Bargaining Committee will draft a contract proposal to submit to the employer at the start of negotiations. The Bargaining Committee will attend all negotiation sessions with the employer. They will advise the IATSE representative how the bargaining unit would like them to respond to employer proposals and what modifications of the union’s proposal are acceptable. The Bargaining Committee will determine when there is a tentative agreement that can be submitted to the entire bargaining unit for a secret ballot ratification vote.
Once a contract has been ratified and executed, all employees covered by the agreement will be offered the opportunity to join the union as full journeyperson members, with all the rights and responsibilities of other members.
Page Last Updated: Mar 23, 2016 (15:01:00)