Q: Why have 1.4
million workers joined the UFCW?
A: For our families. A basic American tradition
is to form groups--unite with people of similar goals
and interests-- because when people work together they
achieve more and look after their concerns more
effectively. Think about all of the interest groups,
both economic and political, that get formed every
year. Businesses join with other businesses to make
sure they stay ahead of trends and developments that
will affect their companies. They pay dues and hire
Washington lobbyists to influence national legislation
in their favor.
So we joined the UFCW because collectively we can
put more wage dollars in our pockets and, therefore,
take better care of our families. Our collective
bargaining contracts help make our jobs secure and our
family dreams affordable, and that means improving our
lives and giving our kids more opportunity to succeed.
The U.S. Labor Department has documented the union
advantage, showing overall that union workers make 34
percent more than nonunion workers.
Q: What is a
collective bargaining contract?
A: Collective bargaining contracts are agreements
between employers and employees, which set wages,
benefits, and other working conditions for a specified
number of years. As UFCW members, we join
together to speak with one voice, so we can have a
real say in workplace decisions. Each time a contract
is up for renewal, we actually sit down with our
employers and negotiate point-by-point the terms of
Q: When UFCW members
aren't in collective bargaining, what do they do?
A: We help make our communities a better place to
live and support lawmakers who look out for the
concerns of working families. While good union
jobs with solid health and pension benefits give our
families peace of mind, the UFCW is about more than
jobs and paychecks. We want all workers to fully
participate in the benefits of the economy they help
build and sustain. No one who works hard every day and
plays by the rules should be left behind in our
economy. Decent wages make our communities more
prosperous because our consumer dollars help support
local businesses and our tax dollars ensure good
public safety and other services. We often join with
community and religious groups to resolve issues of
local concern, from community improvement projects to
raising money for our public schools and local
charities. As union members, we also stay active,
encouraging friends and neighbors to vote and
participate more fully in our democratic system. UFCW
members, like all union members, take civic
responsibilities seriously. More than 70 percent of
eligible union members vote compared with only 48
percent of all eligible voters who vote in elections.
Q: How about dues?
A: Like members in most organizations, we pay dues.
Our dues bring large rewards in our paychecks,
benefits, and working conditions. For example, union
workers make $162 more a week, on average, than
nonunion workers, according to the U.S. Department of
Q: Won't the union
force me to go on strike?
A: The UFCW never forces us or anyone to strike.
Members have the final say through a vote. The
overwhelming fact is strikes rarely happen. The UFCW
negotiates more that 1,500 collective bargaining
contracts each year, and strikes occur in less than
one percent of these negotiations.
Q: Will the
union stop me from talking to my boss or manager about
any problems I may have?
A: Federal law guarantees that you have the right
to talk to your boss or manager. The UFCW isn't
interested in interfering.
Q: Won't the union
be like another boss for me?
A: Actually, management reserves all boss functions
(management's rights) in collective bargaining
contracts. We don't have to check with the UFCW to
take a vacation or sick time. Nor do we have to
justify being late to union officials. Management also
hires and fires. What the UFCW does do is argue your
case if you think management is being unfair in these
situations or other situations. The bottom line is, we
are the union. We elect our officers and vote on all
important membership decisions, including whether to
ratify or reject a collective bargaining agreement.
Q: Don't plants
close when workers vote in a union?
A: Plants often threaten to close if workers
organize a union. Those threats are illegal under
federal law. The UFCW doesn't ask for more in a
collective bargaining contract than a company can
afford. That would be the worst disservice the UFCW
could do to members. In fact, during financially hard
times, most unions have done everything possible to
keep their companies in business. The most famous
example of this is the Chrysler bailout in the 1980s.
The United Auto Workers, not only joined Chrysler, to
pressure the federal government to make loans to the
car maker, but also took concessions which allowed the
company to turn the corner and become one of the most
profitable companies in the world before its recent
merger into DaimlerChrysler.