What is a Contract?

A union contract is the most effective legal document that a worker has on an employer’s ability to determine worker wages, hours and working conditions. Without a contract, a worker is considered an “at-will” employee and subject to the commands of the employer.

With your input as a union member, a contract has been negotiated with your employer on your behalf – a contract which is a legally binding document specifying your wages and wage progression, your rights on the job, your vacation, your healthcare benefits and pension, and nearly all other conditions of your employment. Should your employer violate any terms of this contract, a grievance procedure is firmly in place to resolve the problem.

Your contract is valid for a specified period of time and, upon its expiration, a new contract is negotiated by a committee comprised of trained union negotiators and rank & file union members.

Before negotiations begin, the committee asks for input from all members who will be affected by the contract (or the Bargaining Unit).

When negotiations conclude, and a tentative agreement is reached between the union bargaining committee and the company, the contract is presented to the members of the bargaining unit for a vote to accept or reject it.

Although the committee will recommend acceptance or rejection to the voting members, the final vote by the members ultimately determines whether the contract will take effect. The contract is ratified only when more than 50% of voting members vote to accept it.

Every contract is different, so one of the most positive things that you, as a union member, can do for yourself is be familiar with your union contract. To get the most out of it… be sure you know what’s in it!

How can I reach my Union Representative?

Phone the Local 1546 office at 312-733-2999. 

If you don’t know your Union Representative’s name, be prepared to provide the name of your employer and the address of your workplace. If your Union Representative is not in the office, your message will be returned as soon possible.

When are the office hours for Local 1546?
Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

If I phone the union office, my Union Rep. is often not there and must call me back. Why?
All Local 1546 Union Representatives are assigned to cover a territory comprised of many workplaces that employ numerous members. Except for their one “office day” each week (during which time they handle paperwork, replenish their supplies, attend meetings, and take care of a variety of important office matters), your Union Rep is out in the workplaces that Local 1546 represents providing service to our members during the rest of the week.

What is a grievance?

Your Union contract will spell out what is a grievance and how grievances are processed. The process usually includes several steps and is called the “grievance procedure.”

What is the purpose of the grievance procedure?

  • To enforce the contract
  • To interpret the meaning and intent of the contract
  • To settle workplace problems in a systematic way
  • To help to establish and protect workers’ rights
  • To give workers a voice on the job by providing them with an opportunity to tell their side of the story
  • To promote workplace harmony

If a member files a grievance with his or her Union Representative, the first step is to try to resolve the situation directly with management. If it is not resolved at that time, the next step is to follow the grievance procedures as stated in the Union contract. This may, in some cases, lead to a final step called arbitration where the decision is final and cannot be appealed by either the union or management.

What is a Union Steward?

In many work locations, Local 1546 has trained one of your co-workers and fellow union members to act as a liaison between you and your employer, or you and your union Representative.

Your Union Steward knows your contract, understands its language, and knows the proper procedures to follow regarding discipline and the filing of grievances. He or she stays informed about ongoing negotiations, work actions, and other union activities.

Your Steward often serves as a captain or team leader for fundraising projects or other union sponsored events.

And, your Steward is kept aware of available union benefits and upcoming union meetings and events.

Why do I pay union dues?

Local 1546 is a self-sustaining, not-for-profit organization that exists for the betterment of its members. Your dues pay for expenses incurred in contract negotiations, servicing members, legal fees, organizing new members and communications… just to name a few in a very long list.

It is wrong to assume that you merely pay dues as a return investment for financial gain. Union members pay dues for the same reason civic, faith-based, cultural, business, and professional association members pay dues: It costs money to run an organization, and particularly in our case, it also costs money to defend the best interests of the membership.

What don’t my Union Dues pay for?

It is illegal for Union Dues to be used as contributions to union electoral campaigns, federal political campaigns, and the private benefit of any union employee.

How are my dues paid?

Depending on your employer, your dues may either be deducted directly from your pay each month, or you will be billed separately.

How much are my dues?

Union dues vary depending on the field you work in and your rate of pay. Overall, your Union Dues are a great value considering the higher wages and increased benefits you enjoy as a result of your union membership.