Guide for New Members

The following is reprinted from the ILWU Local 142 Guide for New Members revised February 2013. If you want a printed copy of the Guide for New Members booklet, contact your unit officers, Business Agent, or at the Division Office of your island.

Introduction
Negotiated Wages and Benefits
You Have Rights!
Company House Rules and Discipline
Membership Services
Your Dues at Work
Your Responsibilities
Contact the ILWU

Introduction

Welcome to the ILWU!

As an employee of a company organized by the ILWU, you are now a member of the largest and most effective union in the State of Hawaii. The ILWU represents 17,000 workers throughout the state in a variety of industries: longshore, general trades, tourism, and agriculture.

As a union member, you are entitled to the wages, benefits, and rights on the job that are spelled out in your union contract. More importantly, you now belong to an organization of workers that is dedicated to protecting and improving the conditions of working people. By themselves, workers have little power.

But by joining together into unions, workers have the collective strength to bargain with their employers over wages, benefits, and working conditions. Unions also work to promote fairness and justice in the community. The union movement helped pass many of the laws that benefit working people such as minimum wage, safety and health, and equal rights laws.

Union membership also brings some responsibility on your part. Your union is a democratic organization and this means that members have the right to participate in union programs attend union meetings, and vote for union leaders. After all, you—the workers—are the union, and the union is only strong if everyone participates and gets involved.

On behalf of ILWU Local 142, we welcome our new members to our ranks and hope that all become active members of our Union.
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Negotiated Wages and Benefits

Most people understand that union organization means higher wages, benefits, and rights on the job. When workers are organized into a union, they have the collective power to bargain with their employer over wages, benefits, and working conditions. The results of this bargaining are contained in your union contract, which spells out your wage rates, your fringe benefits, and your rights on the job.

Stand up for your rights!

Don’t take these rights and benefits for granted. There are many times when the company does not follow the union contract, and it is up to union members to stand up for their rights.

You should read your union contract and take an active part in making sure the company abides by its terms. You can get a copy of the contract from your union representative.

Every few years, a new contract is negotiated, and ILWU members have an opportunity to correct problems on the job and to improve wages and benefits. Many of the benefits you enjoy today took many years to achieve. ILWU negotiations are a democratic process.

Here are some highlights of your union negotiated benefits**:

  • Medical and Dental plan for you and your dependent
  • Wages set by union contract with regular increases
  • Paid holidays, vacation, and sick leave
  • Seniority rights for work opportunity and promotion
  • Retirement benefits
  • Problem-solving procedure that gives you a voice on the job
  • Overtime pay for work after 8 hours a day and after 40 hours a week
  • Two days of rest each week
  • Paid funeral leave
  • Separation allowance if you are permanently laid off from the company
  • Union grievance procedure if you are unfairly disciplined
  • Safe working conditions and properly maintained tools and equipment

**the specific terms of your contract may differ — please read your own contract for a full description of your rights and benefits.
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You have Rights!

Problems on the Job? Contact the Union!

As a member of a Union, you have rights on the job. With the ILWU you have the combined strength and experience of the Union on your side.

You have the right to have a Union Steward or Business Agent help you with any problem on the job. You have the right to ask for a Union Representative if the company calls you into a meeting which may lead to a disciplinary action.

You put yourself at a disadvantage when you try to settle a problem by yourself, or when you fail to let your Union know of problems you and your fellow workers have.

When you try to settle problems yourself, your supervisor may agree and then change his mind the next day. Or you may agree to something that may hurt your fellow workers.

The best way is the Union way, where you have the combined strength of other workers beside you.

If you have a problem on the job — The first thing you should do is talk to your union steward of representative.

The union contract spells out a step-by-step process called the Grievance Procedure. It is a method of handling job related problems. The grievance procedure has time limits, so you should contact the Union as soon as possible.
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Company House Rules and Discipline

The company may have House Rules, Standards of Conduct, Dress Codes and work policies that are separate from the union contract. These are the company’s rules — however, the union may get involved if you are disciplined as a result of any of these rules or if these rules are unfairly applied, unreasonable, or unrelated to the business objectives of the company.

If you are given an oral or written warning or are disciplined by management, you should contact your union representative immediately. You have a right to ask for a union representative, if you are called into a meeting with management and you believe the meeting may result in disciplinary action.

The company may not discipline or discharge any employee, except for just and proper cause. Just and proper cause involves the following principles:

  • The company must give the employee forewarning or foreknowledge of the possible or probable disciplinary action as the result of the employee’s conduct.
  • The company’s rule must be reasonable related to the orderly efficient and safe operation of the employer’s business, and the performance that the company might properly expect of the employee.
  • Before administering discipline to an employee, the company must make an effort to discover whether the employee did in fact violate or disobey a rule or order of management.
  • The company’s investigation must be conducted fairly and objectively.
  • When the company conducts its investigation it must obtain substantial evidence or proof that the employee was guilty as charged.
  • The company must apply its rules, order and penalties evenhandedly and without discrimination to all employees.
  • In determining the degree of discipline the company must show that the penalty is reasonably related to the seriousness of the employee’s proven offense and shall consider the employee’s record of service and length of employment with the company.

The union will work on your behalf to investigate if the company acted properly in taking disciplinary action against you. If you are disciplined, there is a time limit in which to contact the union and have the union file a grievance. Because of this time limit, do not delay. Contact a union representative as soon as you can.
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Membership Services

The ILWU Membership Services Program helps members get the most from the benefits provided by their Union contract or by government and private agencies. This program is not limited to job-related problems, but will help members and their families with any problem they have, whether at home, in the community, or in school.

ILWU contracts provide many medical, dental and retirement benefits. Sometimes members need advice on how to get the most out of these benefits. Sometimes members have problems, such as being overcharged by a doctor or a hospital. Members should call the Union for help or advice on how to get the most from their union-negotiated benefits.

Members can receive help with benefits provided by law such as workers compensation, unemployment compensation, temporary disability insurance (TDI), or in dealing with government agencies such as Immigration and Naturalization Service, Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid. Many times members will only come to the Union after they are denied benefits or something goes wrong. Members should see the Union first before it’s too late.

Personal and family problems may also be referred to Membership Services. the Union maintains close relations with many community welfare and service agencies and can refer members to the appropriate agency for help.

ILWU Membership Services also include a year round sports program, legal advice, UH scholarships, and union news.

Call your Business Agent if you need help or have questions about membership services. He or she will help you directly or put you in touch with the right people in state and community agencies. Your Business Agent may also refer you to the full-time social worker, Joanne Kealoha at the ILWU office in Honolulu.
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Your Dues at Work
Your union dues are the only source of income the ILWU has. There is no initiation fee.

Every member of the ILWU pays the same percentage of gross earnings — 2.5% — or $2.50 for every one hundred dollars you earn.

You don’t pay dues when you are on sick leave, on any covered injury or illness, or leave of absence or on temporary layoff. But you continue to have full rights and services as a member.

Your dues pay for:

  • Direct services — wages for union staff and officers and the costs of operating all union programs.
  • ILWU democracy — for a democratic organization to work, members must be able to take part in decision-making. The ILWU pays the wages, expenses, and traveling costs for membership participation in meetings, negotiations, classes, and conventions.
  • Operating costs — all the expense of running offices on Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Lanai, and the Big Island.
  • Part of your dues go to the ILWU International Union to pay for the important services it provides such as organizing, research, and the ILWU lobbyist in Washington, D.C.
  • The ILWU also pays dues to the State AFL-CIO.

ILWU Local 142 dues can only be changed by a vote of the entire membership.
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Your Responsibilities

Know your rights. Read and understand your rights and benefits under the union contract and the ILWU Constitution. You can get copies from your union representative. Take an active part in shaping your working life. Get to know your union shop stewards and get involved with union activities. The union is only as strong as its members.

Come to Union Meetings. You’ll learn about your rights as a working person. It’s an education that will make you a better person and your employment at your company more rewarding and enjoyable. Your participation in the union is always welcome and you will be glad you got involved. Meeting notices are posted on the union bulletin board, along with other important announcements. Make it a practice to regularly read the notices on the union bulletin board.

Your company is called a “Unit” within the ILWU structure. Each Unit has its own elected officers, union stewards, and treasury. All Unit officers and stewards are volunteers. They get no special treatment or privileges from the company or from the union. They are treated exactly like you, except they often sacrifice a lot of time and effort in making your company a better place to work.

Please treat your unit officers with consideration. They have volunteered to do a difficult job and they need your help and cooperation. You should talk to your union representatives if you have any questions about the union contract or a company policy or practice. They are on your side and ready to help you.

If you cannot reach a Unit officer or steward you can call your business agent at the Division Office of your island. Regular office hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. However, there is usually someone in the office, even late in the evening.

If your Business Agent is not in the office, you should leave a message and a phone number and a time when you can be reached. ILWU business agents are required to return calls and they will get back to you.

If you have a serious problem, you should contact the union as soon as possible. There is a time limit on reporting problems in the workplace.
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Contact the ILWU

There are several ways to contact the ILWU.

If your Business Agent is not available when you call, it is very important that you leave a message that includes:

  • Your Name
  • Your Phone Number
  • A time that you can be reached at that number

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