Meet your bargaining representative: This employee organization has the ability to represent employees on their behalf when bargaining between employees and employers on wages, working conditions, hours, and much more. Once an employee group has decided to unionize, their bargaining representative will fight for fair and just terms and conditions of employment that are not only beneficial to the employer, but to all of the employees as well.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 10.8% of wage and salary workers in the United States are members of labor unions. That means that 10.8% of the labor force, excluding those who fall outside the standard wage and salary earning group, are being represented by a bargaining representative through their union. You may be surprised, if not well versed in this area to find out that some of the largest unions in the country aren’t who you may have first thought of.
5 Largest Unions in the U.S.
- National Education Association of the United States
- Service Employees International Union
- American Federation of Teachers
- International Brotherhood of Teamsters
- American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees
Those workers who are not represented by a bargaining representative with their union, on average make 16% less than those with representation. This gives quite a bit of power and responsibility to a bargaining representative. Those in bargaining positions or organizations performing these duties help to make sure that union members/union representatives are able to a.) meet regularly with employers to maintain solid channels of communication, b.) have a say in changes to wages, hours, working conditions, or other important aspects of bargaining, c.) prevent unilateral changes in terms and conditions of employment, d.) prevent the lock out of employees for a wide array of reasonings, among many, many other aspects.
The influence of bargaining representatives doesn’t stop with union members, though. When a bargaining representative is present at a facility or location where work is performed, all of the employees there benefit from their presence. When bargaining representatives work as liaisons for employees, they bargain for wages, hours, working conditions, etc for all of the employees at that location. That is to say, if a new set of schedules is agreed upon between the employer and the bargaining rep, all of the employees at that location are able to benefit from that change. Employees who do not hold memberships with that bargaining representative are still able to make use of the new schedules. If the norm was 10-hour shifts over a span of four days, but the schedule is changed to 8-hour shifts over five days, all of the local employees would move to that schedule, not just the employees who hold active memberships.
Bargaining representatives are common across most public sector industries and among many industries in the private sector as well. If there is a presence in your workplace, tell us a bit about your experience. Do you see their presence as something positive for the general workforce? Do your employees have a positive outlook or do they deem bargaining reps as something negative?