What is a U.S. Union?
- A U.S. Union is an organization that collectively bargains wages, benefits and other aspects of the workplace for employees. If there were a union at our facility or store, the company would be prohibited by law from working directly with you on important issues that affect you. The Union would be your employment-related representative.
How many workers are represented by U.S. unions?
- Only 10.5% of American workers belong to a union. this includes private and public sectors. Of this small amount, the majority of these employees are actually government workers, not private business. In private workplaces in the U.S., like Luxottica, only 6.2% of employees belong to a union: 93.8% do not.
What is an authorization card?
- U.S. Union representatives may say that signing a card is no big deal, but signing an authorization card means you support a union at your facility or store. If you think a union is not needed here and wrong for you, then you should not sign the card.
- With an organization campaign, the U.S. Union will ask you to sign an authorization card. The Union must have signed cards from at least 30% of employees to ask the National Labor Relations Board for an election. Sometimes the Union will get more than 50% and ask the company to skip the election and recognize the Union. That’s what makes the authorization card and your signature important.
- In Canada, the Union may be entitled to become your representative based on signed cards alone. This will vary from province to province, and in some provinces there is a guaranteed election in every case. The fact remains, though, if you do not think a union is needed here and wrong for you, then you should not sign the card.
I signed the union card. Do I have to vote for the union if there is a vote?
- Absolutely not. It doesn’t matter if you signed the union card, attended union meetings, or even have been a union member, you are always free to vote NO. U.S. Elections are conducted by secret ballot – there is no place for a signature and no one knows how anyone voted.
How are union dues determined? How much would I have to pay if there is a union?
- The U.S. Union sets the amount of dues and fees. The company is not involved and has no role in that matter. We are legally required to deduct dues from members’ paychecks if a union is formed and you join the Union and sign a dues deduction authorization card, which could be in excess of $500 a year.
Even if I pay dues, would I have to be a union member?
- Maybe. U.S. Unions almost always insist on a “closed shop” which means that you must be a member of the Union as a condition of employment. That means that if you get on the wrong side of the Union and it cancels your membership, Luxottica may be forced to terminate your employment.
- Even if you are permitted to keep your job without becoming a member, other employees will be making decisions about your pay, your schedule, and all other terms of employment. That’s why it is so important that the entire group decides if they really want the Union in the first place.
What does the Union spend dues money on?
- In the U.S., unions are required by law to report all their annual expenditures. That includes executive salaries, donations to political candidates, convention expenses, etc. Ask a union representative for a copy of their LM-2 report. They should be open and honest about how your money is spent.
- In Canada, unions are not required to report their annual expenditures and they have been fighting legislation which would require that they do.
If the union gets in, what will my retirement fund look like?
- This is not clear. Currently, Associates are eligible for 401(k) (U.S.) or Group RRSP (Canada) and the company makes contributions for qualifying Associates. But the Union might ask to shut down the individual pension plan and ask you to join a union pension fund. This is not something the Union usually contributes to, but is something it has control over. And many U.S. union pension funds are in serious financial trouble leaving people who have worked their entire lives with a much smaller retirement income than they anticipated.
What happens if a U.S. union goes on strike?
- When the Union is on strike, it’s important to know that regular pay stops, benefits usually stop, and striking workers are normally not eligible for unemployment compensation.
What is “Right to Work”?
- “Right to Work” is a law in some states (such as Georgia) that says employees cannot be required to join a union or pay union dues. It is not the law in Illinois or Kentucky. There, most union employees are required to pay union dues as a condition of their employment after a certain period of time.