Non-union vs Union

Without a Union

You are an “at will” employee. “At will” means that you can quit at any time, but you can also be fired at any time and without reason. The company has control over your job security.
Workers have NO control over:

  • changes in wages
  • probationary periods
  • employment status – whether you’re a permanent, regular, or temporary employee, or whether you’re full-time, part-time, or casual
  • job promotion
  • hours of work
  • reporting pay
  • vacation
  • holidays
  • sick leave
  • leave of absence, like jury duty, funeral leave or sick leave
  • health insurance (medical, dental)
  • work opportunity
  • discipline or firing
  • severance pay
  • work schedule
  • pension

Workers have no real control over their pay, benefits or working conditions.


With a Union

You level the playing field by having a “collective bargaining agreement,” also called a “union contract.” You are no longer “at will” and cannot be fired at any time and without cause.
You have a say on your benefits and working conditions!

  • Workers do not stand alone!
  • You have a say on and can bargain over all the things listed above, and more.
  • You have representation in the workplace on all the things listed above, and more.
  • If the company violates your contract, you have the right to file a grievance. You have a grievance procedure and an arbitration procedure, if arbitration becomes necessary.
  • If you get hurt on the job, you have representation on Workers’ Compensation claims.
  • If the company violates the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) – the national law governing unions and management – you have representation and the union may file “unfair labor practice charges” on your behalf.
  • If you get laid off, you have representation on unemployment compensation claims
  • Severance pay is a benefit negotiated in nearly every union contract at an ILWU unionized workplace.
  • You have representation on safety issues
  • And more!

The median weekly income of full-time wage and salary workers who were union members in 2012 was $933, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. For nonunion workers, it was $742.