Q – “The union should be doing more than it is.”
A – There are times when to you the union seems to be moving very slowly. However, it is well to remember that labor relations is a complicated affair. All problems need study, meetings have to be arranged, differences of opinion listened to and ironed out. All of this takes time. A grievance or contract negotiated hurriedly can cause great harm. Your union is doing all it can, as quickly as it can to further your personal gains. However, we must always keep in mind that while improving our own status, that we do not destroy our hard fought for union-management relationship. “The truth shall make you free.”
Q – “We can do as well without unions.”
A – No fair individual can ignore the fact that history proves that unions have accomplished miracles to improve the lot, not only of the worker, but company and country as well. Unions have: promoted security, have given all a chance to advance, have assured more humane treatment and dignity, and have amicably settled thousands of disputes. It is gross ignorance to accuse all unions because a few have discredited themselves.
The records show that unions are making, and will continue to make, valuable contributions to higher standards of life.
The workers who make up your union are typical citizens who are united not only for their own individual welfare, but for the well being of all. Be proud you are a union member.
Q – “Why join a union?”
A – Workers unorganized are weak. Workers organized are strong.
Q – “What does job security mean?”
A – Protection against being discharged without sufficient reason.
Q – “What is collective bargaining?”
A – Workers through their union are powerful enough to have a voice in laying down the rules.
Q – “What is the collective bargaining agreement?”
A – A book of rules, which constitute a solemn contract, which must be observed by both parties.
Q – “What is the real purpose of a union?”
A – To extend democracy.
Q – “Would unions be better off under Communism?”
A – The first thing Communists do is smash unions forever.
Q – “What does a worker most desire?”
A – Security
Q – “What is the union’s greatest weakness?”
A – The indifference of its members to their own affairs.
Q – “Why do I have to pay dues?”
A – Dues are required of every active BAC member. They are used by the International Union to strengthen the masonry industry and to negotiate with employers for better wages, working conditions and benefits for BAC members. Dues are also used to represent members on the job, to defend those who have been treated unfairly and to develop new programs and services.
Q – “What do I get in return for my dues?”
A – You get better wages, more benefits and a safer working environment. In wages alone, statistics show that union members can expect to earn a third more during their lifetime than their non-union counterparts, and are significantly more likely to have health insurance and retirement benefits. Your dues help keep the Union strong so that it can negotiate better wages, benefits and working conditions for you, and keep the unionized masonry industry strong so that there will always be union jobs.
Q – “When do I get a raise?”
A – BAC members are covered by collective bargaining agreements—legally binding documents explaining what the contractor must pay you in wages, when and how wages will increase, and how fringe benefits and overtime work. The collective bargaining agreement also outlines the working conditions the contractor has agreed to follow. To make sure you understand your rights, contact your local for a copy of its collective bargaining agreement.
Q – “How do I know if the correct contributions are made to my pension, health and welfare, and other benefit funds?”
A – Contractors make direct contributions to benefit funds, which keep track of the contributions and the hours you work. Each fund follows up with delinquent contractors to make sure money is deposited properly. You can help by keeping copies of all pay stubs since they indicate the number of hours you have worked and the contributions your employer owes the fund on your behalf. Pay stubs can be valuable evidence when a contractor has not paid you fairly, or fails to make contributions. Information from pay stubs can also be useful if you are injured or become ill from a job-related hazard.
Q – “What is the difference between working and base dues?”
A – Members are charged working dues, an hourly amount deducted from wages, and base dues, a set amount that is charged monthly. Working dues are paid only when you are working.
Q – “Can I deduct my union dues for tax purposes?”
A – In the US, in accordance with the IRS code, union dues and initiation fees are deductible as an itemized deduction, subject to a 2 percent floor. The 2 percent floor is calculated as 2 percent of your adjusted gross income. It is important to note that tax rules are subject to change. Members should consult their tax form instructions each year to find out if these rules have changed.
Q – “When am I eligible for health benefits?”
A – A member in a participating local becomes eligible for benefits on the first day of the second month following the month in which the member completes 200 hours of work. Members remain eligible for health and welfare benefits as long as they meet one of the following “look back” rules:
- A minimum of 200 hours worked in a calendar quarter, or;
- A minimum of 500 hours worked in two consecutive calendar quarters, or;
- A minimum of 1,200 hours worked in four consecutive calendar quarters
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