District Lodge 19

where it all begin

Questions and Answers

Your Right to Join the Union is Protected By the U.S. Government

U.S. Federal Laws, provide specific protections to employees who want to join our union. Under these Laws you have the following rights:

  • You have a right to join the union and ask others to join.
  • You have a right to attend union meetings and ask others to attend.
  • You have a right to wear a union button, or clothing, on the job so long as the item doesn't carry any controversial slogan or compromise your safety.
  • You have a right to give out union leaflets to other employees on your own time away from company property.
  • You have the right to do anything to help get the union going so long as you don't interfere with work or violate announced company policy.

U.S. Federal Laws, prohibit Employers and Supervisors from engaging in any of the following activities during an Organizing Drive:

  • They cannot tell employees that they will fire or punish them if they engage in union activity.
  • They cannot lay-off or discharge any employee for union activity.
  • They cannot bar employee union representatives from soliciting cards or membership forms during non-work time, in non-work areas.
  • They cannot ask employees about confidential union matters, for example, whether you have signed a card, etc.
  • They cannot ask employees about whether they support the union or a union representation election.
  • They cannot ask employees how they intend to vote.
  • They cannot threaten employees or coerce them in an attempt to influence their vote, or to prevent them from voting.
  • They cannot tell employees that their existing benefits will be discontinued if the employees vote for a union.
  • They cannot promise or give employees promotions, raises or other benefits if they vote against the union.
  • They cannot prevent you from casting your vote.
  • They cannot know how you voted.

Questions & Answers

Q: How do I know if my Company or Railroad should be Organized?
A: The answer is quite simple. Talk with your co-workers. If enough people from a particular Company or Railroad contact us through our website, e-mail, on the phone, or through meetings, we will know the level of interest is high enough to proceed with an organizing campaign. Are they truly wanting a union? Do they want to go through this entire process of becoming a union facility? Are the conditions right? Is the employer not treating their employees with dignity and respect? Are they willing to help us unionize them? These are some of the types of questions we ask.

Q: How do you know who the people are that work at a particular Company or Railroad?
A: Initially we rely on the people who work there to help identify their peers. This is one of the hardest things about organizing a group of people; just finding out who works there. Once we have a substantial majority identified, we have a starting point.

Q: After you have identified who works there, then what?
A: There are numerous approaches but more than likely we like to meet the people one-on-one and answer any questions they may have about joining the IAM or the process of becoming a union. This is usually done at their homes, but other arrangements can be made to meet elsewhere.

Q: Why does it seem like everyone is "hush hush" on the idea of joining a union around work? It seems no one wants to talk about a union. Why is that?
A: Some employers try to threaten and intimidate their workers into not forming a union. Even though these are illegal acts under the law, some employers will still employ these tactics. If you are uncomfortable talking about joining a union out of fear of retaliation by your employer, we are always available to answer any questions you may have privately. Remember, when it comes down to a vote, it is a secret ballot and your employer will not know how you voted. The National Mediation Board/National Labor Relations Board tallies the votes. A majority of the ballots cast is all that is required to recognize your group as a union.

Q: People say you just want our dues money. Is this true?
A: 100% false. In order to understand what a union is takes time. A union is a group of people who band together to speak with one strong voice to improve wages, benefits and working conditions of the people they represent. A union is all of us. Yes, it takes money to get the kind of representation needed to combat the actions of employers, but it is a very small price to pay to have a voice in your future. Would we like to have more members? Sure, because there is strength in numbers.

Q: Do we care whether or not you join?
A: We cannot and do not force anyone to join. It is up to the people at a particular Company or Railroad whether or not they want a union. The IAM is only as strong as the members it represents. We don't want a weak union, we want the people to want to be IAM members.

Q: What should I do if my Supervisor is harassing me?
A: Supervisors MUST NOT intimidate, coerce or interfere with you in any way for your organizing activity. If this happens to you please report it to your IAM representative immediately. Do not be confrontational or insubordinate, if you are given a direct order by a supervisor or company representative to cease certain union organizing activity, comply with that order and inform the IAM immediately.

Q: If during lunch time or before work I think I have a chance to sign up one of the other employees, can I sign them up?
A: Yes, you can.

Q: Can I talk about union matters openly with another employee at breaks, lunch time or before and after work?
A: Yes, your right to free speech is protected. However, that right does not entitle you to make a disturbance in the work place.

Q: Can a group of us get together and talk about union matters on company property during lunch time or before and after work?
A: Yes, provided the group does not interfere with a change in shift or otherwise create a disturbance.

Q: If another employee comes to my job during working hours and asks me to sign them up in the union, what should I do about it?
A: Tell them you will be glad to sign him/her up at break, lunchtime or after work.

Q: Are company rules controlling?
A: Yes, but when you belong to the union you will help to make the rules.

Related Articles