A labor union contract is a powerful agreement between parts to secure your rights in the workplace. According to labor law, contracts represent the minimum compensation and benefits for employees. An employer may offer rights and benefits that exceed the minimum standards set in an existing contract. Here is a list of common parts your contract must have.
Employers cannot discriminate against employees because of union membership, age, creed, color, sexual preference, religion, etc. These things are 'guaranteed' by Fair Employment laws, but without a union grievance procedure, workers usually have to file costly lawsuits in order to win discrimination cases against the boss. A union contract makes this much easier to enforce.
The seniority system is spelled out. Basically, seniority is used to determine in what order employees are laid off in the event of a lay-off, in what order employees are called upon to work at holidays, etc.
One of the cornerstones of unionism. This system provides a way for most conflicts between management and employees to be peacefully solved. If an employee feels he or she has been wronged and can not resolve it with management, a union representative will meet with a management representative and try to settle the issue. If that fails, another attempt is made with the management representative's superior. If that fails, an outside arbitrator is called in, whose word is binding on both parties.
Usually 40 hours at 8 hours a day. If more than 8 hours in one day or 40 hours in one week are worked, overtime must be paid.
Union stewards are simply employees who are elected to represent the union on the job site. They make sure the contract is not violated, help employees who have problems with management, and handle most of the grievance procedure, etc.
During the span of the contract, the union may not strike and management may not lock employees out of the workplace. Some organizations might discourage the inclusion of such clauses, because giving up the right to strike makes the union much less potent. The right to strike is guaranteed under the National Labor Relations Act unless unions choose to negotiate that right away.