The most important element in the union structure is the individual member. Members ARE the union. All union activity is started by members and completed by members.
Members sit on the committees that negotiate with the employer for a collective bargaining agreement. In industrial settings, a contract does not become effective until a majority of members vote to ratify it.
Stewards are members who are willing to assist their union brothers and sisters by policing the contract and encouraging members to become and stay active in the union. Local lodge committees, such as safety and LEAP committees, are made up of members also willing to serve.
All union officers – from local lodge officers to the International executive council – are members of the union. Officers serve members in a variety of ways and represent the Boilermakers union on central labor councils, building trades councils, and in the departments of the AFL-CIO.
Working together, these members give working families a voice in the workplace - and in the marketplace. Members representation on the job improves safety and working conditions while also ensuring that members are fairly compensated for their work.
Union members earn about 30 percent more each week than nonunion workers doing the same work, and they are much more likely to have health and pension benefits.
All this work has been and always will be accomplished by members – no one else. Without dedicated, active members, no union can hope to survive.
What kind of union member you choose to be will have a direct impact on your union’s success. The more you learn — and the more you put that learning into action — the more successful you and your union will be.
- Learn how to mobilize members to take an active role in the union to enhance the union’s effectiveness with bargaining, legislative and political action, and other union programs, by building a sense of loyalty and commitment to the union.
- Learn your contract so you can effectively enforce it through the grievance process, Weingarten Rights, communications, and mobilizing members in support of workplace issues.
- Learn your legal rights at work: Workers’ Compensation, Just Cause, FMLA, and much more.
- Learn to identify dangerous tasks and prevent injuries by changing the way you do your job.
- Learn how to develop communication strategies within your local — including written, electronic, member-to-member — to enhance information sharing within your lodge and to activate members.