Collective Bargaining is the process in which working people, through their unions, negotiate contracts with their employers to determine their terms of employment, including pay, benefits, hours, leave, job health and safety policies, ways to balance work, family and more. Collective bargaining is a way to solve workplace problems by having a binding contract with terms that both parties agree to. The United States has long lagged behind other industrialized nations in collective bargaining coverage for public and private sector workers. The right to collectively bargain is essential so that working men and women have the strength to improve their living standards, provide for their families and build a strong middle class.
The IAM is here to assist employees who look to unionize as a means of improving their work conditions and way of life. With the IAM representing the employees at the negotiation table, we look to get the employees a contract representing all of the services the IAM has to offer. From improved wages, benefits and a say in the workplace, having a collective bargaining agreement in place can help in improving work production and moral. Unionizing a company is not easy. It requires hard work and persistence. The IAM is ready, willing and able to work alongside and support you and your co-workers efforts in organizing your workplace. Time, energy and effort are the essential ingredients to success. Below are some key steps to help insure a successful organizing effort.
Step 1– Receive contact from interested employees. Usually this happens via phone communication, email or a contact form filled out on the IAM website. A meet and greet is then arranged to explain the information needed by the IAM to move forward in assessing support in the unit.
Step 2– Start identifying people to assist inside the facility (In-plant committee/team members). Their job is to keep you informed on where we are in the process, hand out any literature and help you get answers to your questions. If you are interested in becoming a leader inside or would just like to ask us questions, call us at 843-640-3106.
Step 3– Determine if there is genuine interest in forming a union by making contact with the employees. Based upon contact with the workers, the IAM will decide whether to move forward with the organizing the unit or pull back until sufficient support has been achieved. Again, the IAM is here to help you form a union, but we have to be fiscally responsible with our members’ resources and cannot and will not expend resources on a campaign if there is lack of interest among the employees. If you are serious in changing your future for the better we ask you and your co-workers to fill out an “Authorization Card” (A-Card) also known as the “Machinist Card”. This is how we gauge the support level of a group. Filling out an “A” Card is the first step in attaining justice on the job.
Step 4– If there is enough interest among your group, the IAM will file a “Petition” for representation with The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Step 5– A “hearing” is then needed to define the “unit”. The Company and the IAM need to determine who among the group of employees are to be represented by the union. There are certain individuals such as Supervisors that may not belong in the union. This step determines who is appropriate based on classification and job duties. Employers often drag their feet during this process, giving them more time to dissolve support.
Step 6– Once the “unit” is defined, we contact everyone in the unit to answer any questions they may have and again assess the level of support. If support has diminished, we will “pull the petition”. By pulling the petition, you and your co-workers will only have to wait 6 months to re-file for election as we attempt to build up additional support. If the petition is not pulled and a “secret ballot election” was conducted and lost, the IAM would have to wait a full year to start over with the process of helping you form a union.
Step 7– If the support is strong from the group, we will move forward in the process. We then ask the employer to voluntarily “recognize” the IAM. If the employer refuses, which is often the case, we will move forward to a secret ballot election.
Step 8– The IAM wins the right to represent the workers by a vote of 50% +1 as the bargaining agent for the employees.
Step 9– The next step in negotiating a contract is surveying the employees to identify their issues and priorities. A negotiating committee is then formed, consisting of employees in your bargaining unit. Alongside an experienced IAM rep, this negotiating committee then meets with the company to start contract negotiations. Once a “tentative agreement” is reached, you and your co-workers will vote on whether to accept or reject the contract offer. Only actual union members can vote on the contract during this phase. It’s important to remember that the stronger the membership, the better the contract!
Step 10– If the majority of the unit accepts the contract, CONGRATULATIONS, you are now a union under a collective bargaining agreement with the many protections and benefits you deserve. If the majority rejects the contract, both sides may return to the bargaining table to refine the terms and work out the differences. If both sides cannot agree on the new terms, you will vote on whether to strike the company or not. If 2/3 (66%) of the voting unit votes to strike, a strike may be called. In some cases the company returns to the bargaining table after the strike vote in order to avoid the strike because they know their employees are serious. Ninety-eight percent (98%) of all IAM contracts are negotiated without a strike. Yet in that rare instance, you, the members, not the IAM determines whether to strike or not.