Q & A
Below are some of the most common questions regarding forming a Union.
About The Union
Q: Who are the members of the IAM Union?
A: Nearly one half million men and women who work in more than 350 job classifications or industries, as defined by the U.S. Department of Labor, in the commercial, manufacturing, non-manufacturing, private, public, federal, state and local government sectors of our nation’s economy. They live in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands and Canada. Although the IAM Union began as railroad union, today it has one of the most diversified memberships of any organization of its kind.
Q: What are some major industries employing IAM members?
A: IAM members work in occupations ranging from front office, computer, clerical, medical and technical positions all the way to the shop floor as tool and die makers, IAM, production, maintenance and healthcare providers.
Q: How many employers have contracts with the IAM Union?
A: A total of employers have almost 4,500 contracts with the IAM Union. They cover members in the smallest one-employee shops to workers at giant multi-billion-dollar conglomerates – most of them on Fortune Magazine’s list of the nation’s top 500 corporations.
Q: Are most IAM Union members actually IAM?
A: No. Originally, IAM Union members were all skilled craftsmen. Today, however, the union’s membership includes, professional, office, clerical, computer, technical, and medical employees, as well as journeymen and apprentice craft persons, helpers, production, maintenance and specialists of all kinds. Membership includes women and workers from nearly all racial, ethnic, and religious groups.
About Your Contract
Q: After we win the secret ballot election, does my employer have to negotiate with us?
A: Federal/State Law requires that employers “negotiate in good faith.” And while some employers try to circumvent the law any way they can, the IAM union has a remarkably good record of successfully helping employees achieve a first contract.
Q: What is a union contract?
A: A union contract is a legal document that is binding by law. It is negotiated with the employer and provides for, among other things, wages, benefits, hours and general working conditions.
Q: Who draws up our contract?
A: You do with assistance from skilled, trained professional union staff. All employees in the bargaining unit contribute their ideas for the proposals. Areas where there is usually room for improvement include, but are not limited to:
- Wages and inflation protection
- Employer-paid health insurance for employees and their dependents
- Effective grievance procedures
- Job security
- Seniority provisions
- Additional paid holidays
- Paid sick leave
- Improved vacations
- Work rules that spell out your rights on the job.
Q: Is there any limit as to what we can ask for in regard to wages and/or benefits?
A: No. Keep in mind, however, that what you ask for should be reasonable and justified.
Q: Who will do the negotiating?
A: The employer and his designated representative on one side of the table. On the other side, PCA staff elected by their peers, together with your local union representative (s) and your International Representative.
Q: Do we have to accept what has been negotiated?
A: No! If you do not feel you have gained enough in negotiations, you have the right to vote to reject the contract offer.
Q: If we vote to form your union, can the employer cut our wages or reduce the few benefits we now receive?
A: No! That would violate Law! Therefore, you will negotiate UP from current wages and benefits.
Q: If there is no union, what will the policy of the employer be as to wages, working conditions and fringe benefits?
A: Without the union, you are at the mercy of your employer to decide wages, benefits and working conditions. Just think how much farther ahead you would be now if you had a union contract to cover you for the past year.
About Authorization Cards / Petitions
Q: When I sign an authorization card or Petition, will it be submitted to my employer?
A: No! Your employer is forbidden by law from asking if you signed an authorization card/petition. “A” cards, as they are referred to in the Union, are used as proof of majority support. The cards/petitions are necessary to receive recognition from the employer of the IAM. If necessary, the cards/petitions will be submitted to the Ohio State Employment Relations Board along with a formal petition to request a secret ballot election.
Q: What is the Ohio State Employment Relations Board?
A: They are the Ohio State agencies whose responsibility it is to enforce the law giving employees the right to be represented by the Union of the workers choosing.
Q: If I sign an “A” card/petition, does this obligate me to vote for the union in the secret ballot election?
A: No. We hope, of course, that all employees vote for the IAM, whether or not they signed an authorization card. The Ohio State Employment Relations Board is a ballot vote and you are free to vote as you choose in the privacy of your secret voting booth or by mail.
However, signing an authorization card should be a sincere commitment to support the organizing program.
About Your Secret Ballot Election
Q: Will anyone know how I voted in the election?
A: Absolutely not. The election is conducted by the Employment Relations Board by secret ballot. No one – neither your employer nor the Union – will know how you voted.
Q: If we vote for the Union, what happens if we are not satisfied later on?
A: The same law that gives you the right to vote for union representation also gives you the right to vote it out if you’re not satisfied.
About Initiation Fees and Dues
Q: Will we have to pay an initiation fee?
A: Representatives of newly-organized groups do not pay any form of initiation fee. Also worth noting, during the organizing effort and the negotiating process there is no dues for members. The dues collecting process begins after the group has ratified their first contract.
Q: What happens to dues money paid to the Local Union?
A: A portion of it pays the salaries of Business Representatives and office staff. The largest portion pays for rent of office space and equipment, representation, legal fees, grievance and arbitration fees, office supplies, printing costs, transportation, strike fund benefits, etc. The members must, in accordance with our Constitution, approve every dollar spent.