Can Workers Lose Union Affiliation?
Working a union job comes with a host of benefits, including higher wages, medical insurance, vacations, workplace safety and job security. Many workers depend on unions to fight for adequate wages and standards of living. As such, it is unfortunate that the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine administration would allow 200 employees to lose their union statuses because of a simple misunderstanding.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union drew up a contract with the institution declaring which job titles were granted union status. Nine job titles lacked union status and both parties assumed that it was the result of a typo, according to the AFSCME.
“We assumed it would be cleaned up,” said one worker. “They decided to pull a fast one on us.” No one corrected the nine missing union statuses, and the AFSCME approved the measure under the false notion that it was accurate. Despite the clandestine nature of the decision, the institution maintains that “SIU School of Medicine bargained in good faith and is abiding by the language of the negotiated agreement, which was ratified by the union,” according to the Human Resources Director.
Can an Organization Strip Union Status from its Employees?
“They’ve got to go through a legal process to do this,” said an AFSCME representative. Before changing the union status of the job titles, the school should have sent the proposed changes to the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board. Losing union status unjustly could be a cause for taking legal action because it bears the following consequences:
- Significant wage reduction
- Loss of benefits, such as health insurance and retirement accounts
- Loss of job security
- Lack of access to union-only jobs
Leaving a union should be the worker’s choice, not the employer’s. Employees who find their union status suddenly revoked should speak to an attorney about whether or not their employer acted illegally or unethically.
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