What happens if you don't join the union?

Discussion in 'UPS Union Issues' started by SloppyJoes7, Nov 30, 2010.

  1. SloppyJoes7

    SloppyJoes7 New Member

    I used to work for UPS. I was a seasonal worker, and thus was employed for about 2 months or so. Nobody talked to me about the union, because they didn't consider seasonal workers to be union candidates.

    I was wondering, though: If I wanted to work for UPS again, on a non-temporary basis, must I join the union?

    According to this thread, which is two years old:
    Most people in this thread said you must join. The driver I worked with also believed you must join. I think the man who hired me also said permanent workers had to join, though I don't remember exactly. At the time, I thought this was legal.

    However, I've been reading that it's illegal to be forced to join a union. That is, union membership cannot be compulsory. In Colorado, I think I could be forced to pay some union dues. Is this the case? Here's what I was reading:

    My second question is simple: If you work for UPS, and don't join the union, how would the company treat you differently?
  2. Billy

    Billy New Member

    there are some states that are "right to work" states. Those you have the option of joining or not. Others you must pay dues in. You could be called a scab and looked down upon by some members if you are in a RTW state and do not join. UPS could care less one way or the other...you're still numbers to them
  3. hypocrisy

    hypocrisy Banned

    At UPS, you work under several contracts negotiated by the Teamsters Union: The National Master, your regional conference, and a local package/sort agreement. A paperback copy of this contract is quite thick and full of language that has been fought for by Teamster brothers and sisters for more than 100 years before you got this job.
    Want a boom box in your package car? Your contract allows it.
    Like power steering? We fought for that too.
    Enjoy Holiday pay and OT pay for holiday's worked? Yup, you guessed it.
    Building heat? Clean restrooms? Separate locker facilities? Yes even these things most workers take for granted, and many many more; were fought for (and in some cases continue to be fought for) by the Teamsters.
    By joining you show respect for those who fought for the benefits you enjoy. You will earn a nice pension in most areas of the country; have paid health benefits and protected seniority rights. If you face the brunt of a manager who you don't see eye to eye with, you will be represented by a Steward who will fight harder for you knowing you are a dues paying member, even though that Steward often suffers personally on the job for his/her tenacity.

    As a Teamster, you enjoy free legal benefits and if you end up divorced, as unfortunately so many of us drivers do, the free legal service will more than pay back what dues you have paid in.

    You also enjoy a voice in your workplace: both in having the knowledge that you have the support of many when you speak out, file a grievance, or seek to address safety, ethical, or contract violations. You also have a voice in shaping future contracts both in deciding the language and voting on the Contract.

    Unionism is all about strength in numbers and the contract is only a good as the enforcement strength behind it. By joining, you say to UPS that "I am one of many who will stand for the Contract we all have agreed to abide by". By joining you give strength to the words of the Shop Steward to your Manager, the Business Agent to your Division Manager, and the Secretary/Treasure et.al. to the Joint Area Labor Management committee and Regional/National level grievance committee. You give strength to James Hoffa Jr's a & hall voices at the National Negotiating table.

    Your State may force you to pay dues without joining, but that just shuts you out of the benefits you would enjoy as a member. Look at the States with strong Right to Work (for less) laws and you will see that the worker doesn't see the benefits promised.

    It's good that you are asking these questions, because a thinking member is valuable. Any organization is only as good as the members who nurture it, and a Union is no different. If you do join, consider attending monthly meetings at your local and asking questions about how your dues money is spent. Consider becoming a Shop Steward so you can make an even greater difference in your workplace and your Union.
  4. brown_trousers

    brown_trousers Active Member

    What do you mean by "non-temporary"? If your thinking about making this a career, then there is no reason to not join the union, because its a cheap monthly price to pay for all the benefits and job security it gets you. Although if you're just looking to work UPS for a year or so, Then it probably wouldn't benefit you to join up, especially considering the steep initiation fees some of these locals are charging.

    But again... all this depends on if you are in one of the "right to work" states, otherwise you have no choice but to join
  5. hondo

    hondo promoted to mediocrity

    Short answer:
    If you're in a 'Right To Work' state, then no, you do not need to join the union.
    If you're not in a 'Right To Work' state, it would be considered a 'closed shop', and you would either have to:

    1. Join the union (sign a card & pay an initiation fee & pay dues).
    2. Don't join the union (don't sign card, pay initiation fee or regular dues). You would be required to pay a 'service' or 'agency' fee (less than regular dues). If you don't pay, you don't work. Maybe apply for management position.
    As a seasonal worker in a non-RTW state, you would likely pay dues, but not initiation fee (because as a seasonal/temporary worker you're not entitled to seniority (permanent employee status)).
  6. 5Angels

    5Angels New Member

    Really? wtf U r a scab already and you don't even work for UPS yet?
    Work Union Live Better....It's not an option !
  7. SloppyJoes7

    SloppyJoes7 New Member

    Okay, this is a partial answer to my question. However, I'm curious about the details. Does a non-member actually receive fewer benefits? For example, lower pay, less benefits, etc? Can anyone knowledgeable answer this with certainty?

    And, for those who want to extol the virtues of unions, that's not what I mean. I'm asking, specifically, if I was hired, and didn't join the union, would I be treated differently by UPS the company? Would I be paid less? Would I get fewer benefits? I know I wouldn't have the backing of the union, if I were to get in trouble, for example. But would UPS treat me differently?
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2010
  8. SloppyJoes7

    SloppyJoes7 New Member

    That's a rather exclusive statement. I know of two teachers, for example, who have refused to join their unions, because they simply hated the union's viewpoints, and didn't want to be associated with it.

    I believe this is a lie. According to labor law, you cannot be forced to join a union.
  9. SloppyJoes7

    SloppyJoes7 New Member

    Sorry for the multiple posts, but I'm making multiple replies. And yes, I'm sincere, and want to learn more about unions. I've worked for two places that had unions. For one (Safeway) I was too young to join, and for the other (UPS) nobody ever approached me about joining. So, I don't know from experience how it works. I've only read about it.

    Anyway, hondo, you're confusing me. In 1947, the Taft-Hartley Act made the closed shop illegal. However, what you described in point "2" is a union shop, not a closed shop, so I think that's what you meant. And, are you saying that for UPS, management isn't part of the union? I guess that would make sense.

    And when I was a seasonal worker, nobody ever talked about the union to me. I asked a few questions about it, but nobody ever seemed to think it was relevant to me. And yes, Colorado is not a RTW state. It does have some slightly RTW-friendly laws, but I believe you can be forced to pay agency fees, so it is not RTW.
  10. JonFrum

    JonFrum Member


    In a Right-To-Work state you do not have to join the Union or pay dues, initiation fees, fines, or other assesments.

    In a non-RTW state like Colorado you do not have to join the Union, but you can be required to pay the Union a monthly Agency Fee in lieu of dues. The Agency Fee is usually about 85-90% of what dues would be. That is because the Union has legitimate expenses in representing you, and you must pay your fair share. An Agency Fee Payor is not a Union member.

    In both RTW and non-RTW states you are treated the same under the law. You get the same contract, pension and health & welfare coverage as if you were a dues paying union member. You can file grievances and must be represented by the Union when the Company calls you in the office. Any Union Steward that would be tempted to under-represent you because of non-membership should realize he would be breaking the Law, and setting a bad precedent concerning the issue being grieved.
  11. JonFrum

    JonFrum Member

    I've been a dues paying member of the Teamsters since 1973. Dues are currently $90 per month, and the Initiation Fee is $500. When will I be getting the benefits you speak of?

    We usually don't have building heat, or power steering, or clean restrooms, or lockers or free legal benefits.

    On two holidays I would only get straight time for working them, even if I was forced in. (And I'm not an Air Driver.)

    My pension plan is even more underfunded than all the other underfunded Teamster plans.

    The Health & Welfare Plan is always looking for benefits to cut.

    Seniority generally does not go by years of employment with UPS in the bargaining unit, so my effective seniority is only about a third what it should be under a true seniority system.
  12. SloppyJoes7

    SloppyJoes7 New Member

    I greatly appreciate your answer. In all my research, I couldn't find any information like what you've said.

    Specifically, the rights within a company of an agency-fee-paying non-union employee. I found information about unions, and information about rights, but I couldn't find information about what it's like to be a non-union employee in a union company.

    By simply asking this question, a lot of union people get:
    1) Angry, acting like movie-villain union thugs
    2) Union salesmen.
    3) Politely answer questions.

    I genuinely appreciate anyone who has answered my questions, as most of you have done.

    JonFrum, what really surprises me is your last paragraph. I had no idea that you could get the same contract, pension, health, and representation as a union member. The makes sense, however, because if you're paying agency fees, so you should get the same benefits and pay. However, the last part is really surprising. You really get representation by the union? That doesn't make much sense. Why would they represent you if you're not a member?
  13. Nimnim

    Nimnim The Nim

    I'm in a RTW state, and non members don't pay anything, but still get representation. However any grievances filed by non members are not high on the priority if it comes to other grievances by union members filed as well. They'll be heard, but usually after union member grievances are done. In other cases the Stewards don't always know if someone is in the union or not so they tend to treat everyone the same.
  14. SloppyJoes7

    SloppyJoes7 New Member

    So, in a RTW state you don't have to pay, yet you get full benefits and representation? Wow. I couldn't find anything online that mentioned anything like that. Not even on anti-union websites. I don't live in a RTW state, so I'd have to pay the agency fee. But still, I'd get representation. That surprises me.

    Also, I had no idea there was a joining fee. $500? If you just got a job, that seems like your first paycheck would be taken by the Union.

    Is all this UPS specific, or is this general practice or law?
  15. Nimnim

    Nimnim The Nim

    The initiation fee is local specific, and they also don't take it out all at once. I don't remember what it is for my local, but it was spread out over 4 checks I believe.
  16. SloppyJoes7

    SloppyJoes7 New Member

    Spreading it out sounds fair. You'd probably have a lot fewer members if you didn't.

    Are there any companies that have one contract for union members, and treat non-union members differently? I could see this working two ways:

    1) Non-union-members pay the agency-fee, get the same pay/benefits as union members, but do not get union representation. Thus, the union doesn't help them.
    2) Non-union-members pay no agency fee, and get none of the same guarantees as union members, but may get paid more/less, or promoted slower/quicker, because they'll negotiate their own contracts.

    I'm not sure if that happens, or if it's even legal.
  17. JonFrum

    JonFrum Member

    A Union must by Law represent all the members of the bargaining unit, even those who are not members of the Union. This obligation is imposed on unions because the National Labor Relations Board declares the Union the exclusive representative of the entire bargaining unit. The NLRB prohibits any other union (or unions) from competing with the existing union for a period of about three years. Every time a new Contract is ratified, a new three year period of exclusive representation is created. In exchange for being exempt from competition most of the time, the Union is required to represent everyone in the bargaining unit equally.

    Members of the bargaining unit who are not also Union members can not attend Union meetings, vote in Union elections, or vote in Contract ratification votes or strike votes.

    To see if your Local has any Agency Fee Payors already, go here . . .

    And for UNION NAME select IBT_TEAMSTERS from the drop-down list.
    Leave everything else blank, and hit SUBMIT.

    Then click on your Local to see your Local's LM-2 Annual Financial Reports. The Dues Payors and Agency Fee Payors are totaled in Schedule 13 Membership Status.
  18. grgrcr88

    grgrcr88 No It's not green grocer!

    No it is not legal. Every employee under the collective bargaining agreement must be represented the same and allowed the same benefits whether a dues paying member or (in the RTW states) pays nothing at all.

    At UPS every employee that is not management is covered by the collective bargaining agreement. As was stated earlier, different regions will have different supplements riders or addenda to the national master contract. Each regional supplement will differ somewhat, but everyone is covered by the same national master agreement.
  19. hypocrisy

    hypocrisy Banned

    Jonfrum is correct that Stewards must represent all persons in the Bargaining Unit, whether Union members or not. However, the NLRB has stated that simply being present constitutes representation. If you are a non-member, I wouldn't expect more than the minimum as far as representation. I wouldn't say this is universal, as I have some non-members who are non-members for personal reasons (usually they feel they are making a statement but mostly it's because they are cheap and have a defective sense of morality LOL) whom I personally will represent with all of my ability. These non-members are very active and did not cross the picket line in 1997. Solidarity counts more than membership in my mind.

    The benefits I spoke of, that apparently Jonfrum does not seem to enjoy, are in Article 18 of the National Master agreement so everyone should be having those benefits. All locals are not created equal and as I mentioned, any organization is only as good as it's members. I feel if your local is not representing you adequately it is up to the members to use it's bylaws to replace their leadership. Of course this requires action, and most people expect the Union to do everything for them. The strength is in the membership, not the administrative body.

    As far as I know, the legal plan is nationwide. It could just be in the Western Conference. Instead of looking online I would suggest going directly to your local and asking what benefits they offer.

    Your initiation fees and dues vary according to your local. I've heard up to $1500 initiation in some areas and as low as $50. My local regularly waives initiation fees in order to boost membership. I personally offer to pay the initiation fee if that is the hurdle keeping someone from joining. Some locals offer a reduced initiation fee for part-timers vs. full-time, so there is an incentive to join early. As a Steward, my dues are paid by the Union for the work that I do. I voluntarily gave that up more than a decade ago as it was worth every penny to whip out my paycheck and show the doubter that I'm not "just a Steward so I can get out of paying dues".

    No one approached you when you were a casual hire because that is not considered a bargaining unit position and so you could not join.

    Over the years I've seen management that treated non-union drivers differently, you could even say favorably. Of course, this only lasted so long and then the drivers found themselves getting taken advantage of. Some of those drivers are some of my best Union members now, the others went into management and have since left the company. Your experience may vary.
  20. SloppyJoes7

    SloppyJoes7 New Member

    That's a strange arrangement. I'm trying to figure out why there are laws like this governing unions. It seems that if a union has enough members, it would wield power. A company would want to negotiate with it, because it depends on their labor. No legislation would be required.

    It sounds like lawmakers took power away from unions, (by forcing them to represent and give the same benefits to non-union employees), and then gave them power to represent employees, (whether the individual employees liked it or not). Why take some power away from unions, then give them extra power to make up for it? Wouldn't eliminating both regulations create the same net result?

    I also think it's strange that a union is forced to cover non-paying employees. I'd think non-union members would get no coverage from the union, but would also therefore be exempt from anything the union has negotiated for. In other words, they pay no dues, but get no part of the collective bargaining. Instead, the law is that they are forced to take the same deals the union/management have negotiated for, for better or for worse. I think it would be more fair to ensure that unions cannot get money from non-members, but as a result, non-members get no representation from the union. This would also allow for multiple unions within a company. Why the law forces a monopoly, I have no idea.

    The only law that makes sense to me is the right to join or refrain from being in a union. This goes back to freedom of association. I don't think an employee should be forced to join a union to get work. On the other hand, it makes sense to therefore ban companies from firing people because they join a union. You either grant employers the right to fire either one, or take away their power to fire either one.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2010