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What Does It Mean to Unionize a Company?

February 8, 2023

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Unionizing a company involves employees joining together to form a union in order to collectively bargain and negotiate with their employer over wages, working hours, safety standards, and other terms and conditions of employment. 

Through unionization, workers are able to advocate for their rights as employees and ensure that the employer meets industry standards. Workers are given a voice that must be heard, and employers are required to act in accordance with the law at all times and in such a way as to put the well-being of their staff at the forefront of their operations.

How Are Unions Formed?

It is crucial to know how many employees are needed to form a union. According to the NLRA, in order for an employee organization to be recognized as a labor organization, it must have at least 30% of employees interested before proceeding with the creation of the union. If this is achieved, the next stage is to carry out an official election using union election software or a traditional ballot in which the majority of employees must vote in favor of the formation of the union. Should this stage be successful, the process of forming the union can begin.

What Are the Key Features of a Unionized Company?

Collective Bargaining

All collective bargaining agreements must be negotiated between management and representatives of the workers' union. This means that all wage rates, benefit amounts, working hours, job security provisions, and other important workplace conditions must be negotiated directly between management and the union on behalf of its members in an effort to reach a fair agreement. A principal benefit of being part of a union is that it gives workers more power and leverage when negotiating with employers. 

Employment Protection

In many cases, a collective bargaining agreement provides additional job security for workers who are part of a unionized company. For example, seniority clauses may be included which protect senior staff from layoffs by requiring reductions in force to be based on length of service instead of performance or skill. Unions also offer job protection for their members through contracts that highlight employment rights such as protections against unfair dismissal or the right to strike. 

Unions can also help protect workers from discrimination based on race, gender, and disability status, and help secure workers’ rights in cases of sexual harassment. With these protections in place, unions help ensure that all employees are treated fairly regardless of their backgrounds or circumstances.

Fair Wages, Benefits, and Working Conditions

The collective bargaining process can help ensure that all employees at a unionized company receive fair wages and benefits that meet industry standards or exceed them, depending on the agreement reached with management. Unions can also use collective bargaining agreements as leverage during negotiations with management in order to secure better working conditions such as improved safety protocols or enhanced training opportunities for employees.

Increased Access to Information

Often via their stewards, unions provide a number of services to help provide employees with information on important matters which can be difficult to navigate. Firstly, through seminars and conferences, unions educate employees on issues such as workplace safety, labor law, compensation, healthcare, and retirement planning, while also providing access to resources like legal assistance for grievances or arbitration proceedings. 

One of the benefits of becoming a union steward is that you can offer assistance to your fellow staff members facing such issues by acting as a liaison between them and their employers.

Final Thoughts

A unionized company aims to secure the rights of its employees and guarantee a fair place to work with correct working conditions. Unionization is a complex process, but when successful, there is every reason for it to enrich the professional lives of workers by giving them the support and conditions to which they are entitled.

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