Advantages of Being in a Union

These are some general facts about being in a union. For some of what Local 800 has achieved for its members, see the pages What We Do: Member Wage Increases and What We Do: Protecting Member Rights on the Job,  and also the articles, Until she was fired after 17 years: "I never thought I'd need the Union's help" and Two union members walked into a bar.  For perks of belonging to AFSCME, see the AFSCME Member Benefits page.  For your Weingarten Rights as a union member, see If you are called into a meeting with management, you have the right ...

What is a union?

A union is an organization formed by employees who join together and use their strength to have a voice in their workplace. Through their union, employees have the ability to negotiate from a position of strength with employers over wages, benefits, workplace health and safety, job training and other work-related issues. Unions also serve an important role making sure that management acts fairly and treats its employees with respect.

Employees represented by unions are entitled under the law to have a say in their wages, hours and working conditions, because these terms are collectively bargained. Unions provide clout to employees because there is strength in numbers –- thus the saying, “united we bargain, divided we beg.”

I'm a professional. Aren't Unions for blue-collar workers?

AFSCME Local 800 proudly represents employees in a multitude of job categories -- from social workers to janitors, from fundraisers and IT specialists to drivers, from teachers and program managers to executive assistants and kitchen workers, case managers to art directors.  AFSCME District Council 36, home to Local 800, is also the union home for lawyers and paralegals who work at Bet Tzedek. Nationwide, white collar workers make up the largest percentage of union members.  For a more in-depth answer to this question, see the response to question #3, here.

Do union members get higher wages?

Yes.  Studies have shown that employees who are union members earn 26.2 percent more than non-union workers. The difference is even greater for women and people of color. Women and African Americans represented by unions earn between 29.7 and 33.1 percent more than their non-union counterparts. And Latino workers with the union advantage make 47.1 percent more than those not represented by a union.

Do union workers get better benefits?

Yes. Union members are more likely than their non-union counterparts to have access to health care and pension benefits. Ninety-five percent of union members have health insurance and a pension plan available — versus approximately 68 percent (health insurance) and 63 percent (pension) of those not in a union.

What about rights on the job?

It’s standard in union contracts that employees can only be terminated for “Just Cause,” and have a right to arbitration in case of disciplinary action or termination. 

For more information, please explore this website further, including the pages linked at the top of this article.  And if you have questions:  please get in touch.  This is your union.  See the Contact Us page.

Don't forget:  you are invited to the next Executive Board meeting (and the one after that, and the one after that). See About Local 800.