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Union Contract Must Have Outlines

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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.

1. Union Shop

A provision that states that all employees must belong to the union as a condition of employment. Exceptions to this are granted for religious reasons and in 'right to work' states. This clause may be different or prohibited in some states.

2. No Discrimination Policy

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.

3. Seniority

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.

4. Grievance Procedure

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.

5. Hours & Overtime Defined

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.

6. Work Breaks Defined

Usually two 15 minute breaks per 8 hours worked.

7. Union Stewards

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.

8. No Strike/ No Lockout

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.

9. Appeal from Discharge

In the event that an employee is fired, he or she can appeal to the union for help within 30 days.

10. Wages

Union contracts will usually define what the base rate of pay is. If a union simply cannot secure a direct raise, there are other options available in getting better compensation for employees.
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