Myths and Facts About Unions

Myth: Unions are outside, special-interest groups.

Fact: Workers are the union. A union is simply a democratic organization of working people standing up for their rights on the job and in society. Unions also bring people together in the community to stand up for issues that matter to all working people.

Myth: Unions mean more conflict in the workplace.

Fact: Unions can make the workplace a more harmonious place to work. A union contract allows the company and workers to sit down as equal partners and discuss problems as they come up. Without a union, workers’ lives are often in more turmoil because they have to deal with more favouritism and less economic security.

Myth: Unions force workers out on strike often.

Fact: Workers vote whether or not to strike. Ninety-seven percent of contract negotiations are settled without a strike. No one ever wants a strike. Since 1990 Local 353 has successfully negotiated our contract with a no strike and no lock out clause. We have found this to be an effective method of collective bargaining and eliminating the need to go on strike.

Myth: Companies close due to unions.

Fact: According to Cornell scholar Kate Bronfenrenner, only 1 percent of newly organized companies do close. Companies typically close for economic reasons and the vast majority of companies are nonunion. Some companies, however, like to keep this myth alive. Employers illegally threaten workers who form a union by saying the shop will close. Studies have shown that unions help decrease employee turnover and increase efficiency and profits.

Myth: Unions just want workers’ dues.

Fact: Money that workers pay in dues goes back into running the organization. Unions are not for profit organizations. The improvements workers win in pay, benefits and fair treatment through their unions are far greater than the cost of dues. The amount of dues we pay is set by the membership

Myth: Most union bosses are corrupt.

Fact: It’s a tragic situation when a trusted leader betrays the membership in any kind of organization. However, for every high-profile story that is in the media about a corrupt union leader, there are tens of thousands of honest leaders who are never profiled. During a union organizing campaign, the employer drags out stories of corruption, never telling the whole story. It’s all part of their deception campaign.

Myth: Unions used to be effective, but they’re not anymore.

Fact: Unions are still by far the best way for working people to win economic security and have a voice on the job. The numbers tell the story: Union members, on average make 25 percent more in wages than workers who don’t have a union. Union members are much more likely to have a defined-benefit pension plan and health care than workers without unions. Unions also curb discrimination on the job, keep the workplace safe and give workers a much needed voice. In our case the data is even more dramatic. In our industry  experience has consistently shown that IBEW 353 electricians earn double the wages of our unrepresented brothers and sisters working for nonunion shops.