A union is a nonprofit organization that represents employees who have joined together to protect and promote their collective interests. A union bargains with employers for higher wages, stronger benefits, and better working conditions for the employees it represents.
Without a union, employees in Massachusetts are at-will, meaning their employer can discipline and fire them for any reason as long as it’s not illegal. Because you have a union representing you, your employer must have “just cause” to discipline, fire, or take other adverse employment action against you.
A collective bargaining agreement also called a “CBA” is a contract between a union and an employer that sets forth wages, benefits, and other working conditions. That contract is legally binding and enforced through what is called a “grievance procedure” included in the contract. When your employer violates the contract, your union can file a grievance. The benefits of your union contract are the result of your hard work and dedication after many months of negotiating with your employer.
Your union contract is here. Read it so you know your rights and refer to it whenever the need arises.
The current CBA expires on September 30, 2023. Negotiations will begin this summer. The input of members like you is extremely important to the process. The last two contracts with Horizon and United have had five-year terms. Prior to that, three-year contracts were the norm.
Contact your union steward immediately to explain the issue and seek help. Do not refuse to perform your job unless your health or safety are at risk.
When your employer violates the contract, your rights and the rights of your co-workers are undermined. Don’t be shy about standing up for your rights. And don’t wait to ask for help! There are timelines for filing a grievance that the union is required to follow.
If HR or your supervisor or manager tells you to attend a meeting, and you have a reasonable belief that discipline or other adverse consequences might result from the meeting, you have the right to request a union representative. This right is guaranteed by the "Weingarten" Supreme Court decision. You cannot be punished for requesting union representation.
Here is what to say before the meeting starts: "If this discussion could in any way lead to discipline, I respectfully request that my union steward be present to assist and represent me at the meeting. Without representation present, I choose not to participate in this discussion."
One of the great benefits of your union contract is that you are a participant in a pension plan once you’re vested. That means you get a guaranteed, defined benefit when you retire. The pension plan is managed by a third-party administrator called Amalgamated Employee Benefits. Amalgamated is your primary contact for all things retirement related.
If retirement is on the horizon, start planning early. Your application should be filed at least three months in advance of your anticipated retirement date.
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