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Union Fact & Fiction

Fiction:

Unions are outside, special-interest groups.

Fact:

A union is the workers. A union is simply a democratic organization of working people standing up for their rights on the job and in society. Unions also bring people together in the community to stand up for issues that matter to all working people. 


Fiction:

Unions mean more conflict in the workplace.

Fact:

Unions help resolve conflict and can make the workplace more peaceful and productive. A union contract allows the company and workers to sit down as equals and discuss problems as they come up. Without a union, workers’ lives are often in more turmoil because they don't have the security of a collective bargaining agreement or a grievance procedure to deal with disputes. 


Fiction:

Unions cause companies to close.

Fact:

Companies close for economic reasons—and the vast majority of companies that close are non-union. However, some companies like to promote this fiction by illegally threatening workers who attempt to form a union with closing the company. Studies actually show that unions help companies by decreasing employee turnover and increasing productivity.


Fiction:

Unions just want workers’ dues.

Fact:

Unions are not for-profit organizations. Money that workers pay in dues goes into running the organization, primarily in the form of representation. Dues levels are set by each local union through a democratic process. The gains workers see in pay, benefits, and fair treatment thanks to their unions are far greater than the small cost of union dues.


Fiction:

Most union bosses are corrupt.

Fact:

It’s a tragic situation when a trusted leader betrays the membership in any kind of organization. However, for the handful of high-profile stories that are in the media about corrupt union leaders, there are thousands of regular, honest leaders who are never profiled, and positive stories that don't make headlines. Sadly, what most people know about unions, they only know from negative press, not from the good, important work they do.


Fiction:

Unions are in decline.

Fact:

Actually, union membership has remained steady for the past 50 years, but the workforce itself has grown. Today, 14.5 million working men and women in the United States are union members.


Fiction:

Unions used to be effective, but they’re not anymore.

Fact:

Unions are still by far the best way for working people to win economic security and have a voice on the job. The numbers tell the story: Union members make up to 30 percent more in wages than workers who don’t have a union. Union members are much more likely to have a retirement plan and health insurance than workers without unions. Unions also keep the workplace safe, curb discrimination on the job, and give workers a much-needed voice.


Fact:

Unions are not about politics. Unions’ work involves fighting for good contracts, helping workers improve their lives and standing up for all working families. Some would say that work includes supporting pro-worker political candidates and legislation that help working people and their unions achieve these goals. While HHWA does not often get involved in political campaigns, many unions are politically active. However, it is not about electing Democrats or Republicans—it’s about supporting those who stand up for the rights and interests of working people.

Fiction:

Unions are political organizations that work to elect Democrats.


Fiction:

Unions force workers out on strike often.

Fact:

Workers vote whether or not to strike. Strikes get a lot of attention, but ninety-nine percent of contract negotiations are settled without a strike. No one ever wants a strike and it is always a last resort.