Why Do Workers Organize?
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!