UAW Solidarity House | 8000 East Jefferson Avenue
Detroit, Michigan 48214 | p. (313) 926-5000
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|. . . if your workplace is non-union||. . . if you join a union and have a contract|
|You are an "employee at will." Your employer can discipline or fire you at any time for any reason; you have no recourse.||Discipline, up to and including discharge, is subject to a grievance procedure and binding arbitration, depending on the terms of your contract.|
|"Open door" policy means the employer will listen to you... and then do whatever he or she wants.||Contract negotiations require both sides — labor and management — to listen, and reach reasonable compromises acceptable to both sides.|
|Employer determines wages, benefits and other terms and conditions of work. If you're not satisfied, your only option is to get another job.||Wages, benefits and working conditions are negotiated. If you are not satisfied, you can work for changes during contract negotiations.|
|Wages, benefits and other terms and conditions can be changed by the employer at any time.||Neither labor nor management can make unilateral changes to a signed contract. If modifications are necessary during the life of a contract, both sides must agree.|
|Hiring and promotion is up to the discretion of the employer.||Hiring and promotion is covered by contract. Seniority and other factors can be written into the agreement.|
Unless workers have a union contract, they are at the mercy of company policies. Most employment handbooks clearly state that policies are "guidelines only and ... not a contract of employment" or that the terms of the handbook are subject to change without notice.
Even under a company's "open-door" policy, there is nothing to really make anyone believe that the policy is meaningful. To the contrary, there is often a powerful conflict of interest in these "open door" policies because workers are complaining about management's decisions to a board or body that has been handpicked by management.
It's not surprising then that workers without a union are often subject to arbitrariness and unfairness on the job.
Workers without a contract are considered "employees at will." That means they can be fired at any time and without reason, the only exceptions are termination for discrimination, whistle-blowing or union organizing.
In fact, when looking at laws affecting workers, it's good to think of this: laws like the minimum wage, worker's comp, overtime, OSHA and ERISA (governing pensions and profit sharing) provide the bare minimum that applies to everyone. For non-union workers, however, the bare minimum becomes a ceiling - no one promises rights any higher. For union workers, on the other hand, the bare minimum is just the floor - they always bargain for rights and benefits above the bare minimum set by the law.
No surprise then that union wages are better, union shops are safer and union jobs are more secure!
If you are interested in organizing your workplace with the UAW, contact our Organizing Department or call 1-800 2GET-UAW (1-800-243-8829). You'll be connected to (or get a call back from) a UAW organizer who can answer questions and tell you what it takes to organize a union at your workplace.