Frequently Asked Questions

What is a union?
A union is simply an employee organization—protected by law—where a group of workers joins together to improve and guarantee their wages, benefits and working conditions. A union also gives employees a way to achieve respect and fairness on the job and a stronger voice to impact employer decisions. Without a union, employers have 100% control.

How would a union benefit me?
When employees join together to form a union, they can pull together their various ideas and concerns in a unified voice with far more power than speaking alone. By joining with OPEIU Local 537, you will enjoy the protection of a legally binding contract, negotiated and voted on by you and your co-workers. As a union member you gain the right to negotiate with your employer as an equal and bargain over your pay, benefits, retirement, employer policies, schedules, hours of work, health and safety, job security and many other important workplace issues. There’s no doubt union workers fare better in the work world. Click here to see how Unions Make a Difference.

How do I join a union?
If a large majority of co-workers show support by signing cards (or a petition), a request can be made to the National Labor Relations Board to conduct a secret ballot election. The public sector uses a similar process. The election will officially determine whether or not a majority (50% plus one of those who vote) wants to have a union. Once the election is won, the law requires your employer to recognize your union and negotiate in good faith. There are other creative ways to put pressure on your employer to recognize your union. A government-supervised election is just one alternative. Click here to contact OPEIU Local 537.

Is there a risk in supporting a union?
It is against the law for your employer to ask you about your union activity or to threaten, harass, fire, discipline or discriminate against you because of union activity. The National Labor Relations Act protects workers trying to form a union. When workers organize with OPEIU they can depend on support and back up if needed. Click here to learn more about Your Legal Rights.

Can I talk about the union at work?
The law gives you the right to talk about the union at work when other non-work related talk is allowed or during non-work times such as breaks, meal times or before or after work.

What about strikes?
Employers love to scare workers thinking of forming a union with strike talk. In reality, strikes are rare. OPEIU settles over 98% of its contracts without ever going on strike. Besides, there could only be a strike where you work, if the vast majority voted to do so. OPEIU union leaders can’t “call a strike” nor can union members from other workplaces. Only the employees where you work could make that decision.

How will my employer react?
Most employers, even good ones, feel threatened when they find out employees want to share some power and control. Most will try to convince you not to form a union by using a variety of tactics designed to create doubt. However, workers successfully form unions all the time. The key is to stay united and focus on the reasons you wanted a union in the first place. Click here for What My Employer Will Say.

How much are dues?
New members don’t pay any dues until your contract is voted on and approved by you. That way you can see the results first before paying any dues. Newly organized members also never pay any initiation fees. Click here for the Dues Schedule.

How are dues spent?
OPEIU is a non-profit employee organization that operates almost solely from member dues. Dues are used to: Negotiate strong contracts, defend members and enforce contract rights, organize new members to improve bargaining strength in existing workplaces and to improve standards in a particular industry, train and support Shop Stewards and other union activists, push for laws to protect and expand workers’ rights on the job, keep members informed through newsletters, union publications and the website, and provide educational opportunities for union members.

Who runs the union?
The members of the union make the decisions. Once you become a member you and your fellow workers will run your union. You elect your own negotiating committee and decide on contract priorities. You elect officers and leaders at the local and national levels.

Why a union with OPEIU?
Office and Professional Employees International Union was chartered in 1945 and with over 100,000 members strong, we’re one of the larger unions of the AFL-CIO. OPEIU members work in many settings as varied as banking and credit unions, building and construction, insurance, higher education, shipping, hospitals, nursing homes, medical clinics, social services, utilities, transportation, manufacturing, hotels, offices and more.

How do I contact OPEIU to start a union where I work?
Call OPEIU Local 537 at 626-577-5600 or click here to get further assistance.