COMMON QUESTIONS & ANSWERS ABOUT THE ROOFERS UNION


Q: WHAT IS A UNION ?

Answers: A union is a group of people who join together to increase their strength when dealing with workplace issues such as fairness, wages, benefits and working conditions.

It is a democratic organization in which every member has equal say in how things are run. All actions are governed, either directly or indirectly by the membership.

Even the leadership must be elected by the membership every three years. Every member can run for any office subject to a few minor limitations in the Constitution and By-Laws. These limitations address length of time as a member (two years minimum) and certain criminal activity.

Q: CAN ANYONE JOIN A UNION ?

Answers: Yes, Union membership is available to everyone.

Q: HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO JOIN ROOFERS AND WATERPROOFERS LOCAL #95?

Answers: There is an initiation fee of $400.00 to join the Union. However if you are joining or re-joining for the first time since January 1, 1994, there is a one time only reduction in the initiation fee to $40.00 to join. Thereafter monthly dues are $25.50 per month.

Q: DO I HAVE TO PAY BEFORE I GO TO WORK?

Answers: No. We do not require any money prior to going to work. You may pay your initiation fee yourself at any time. If you don't pay it yourself the dues check off assessment defined in the next question, Are there any other costs, will be applied to your initiation fee until it is paid in full.

Q: ARE THERE ANY OTHER COSTS?

Answers: Yes, there is an hourly assessment of 74 cents per hour. This is only paid on actual hours worked.

This money is what supports the union, pays our salaries and all other related expenses.

There are also two other benefit costs that are paid out of this money. What this money is used for is explained in more detail in the answer to the question, That is a lot of money, what do I get for that money?

Q: THAT IS A LOT OF MONEY, WHAT DO I GET FOR THAT MONEY ?

Answers: Representation to negotiate on your behalf a legal contract with your employer. Current contract includes:

  - $22.28 per hour journeyman wage
- $3.15 per hour vacation pay
- Medical insurance that covers the whole family at no additional cost to you.
- A pension plan that will equal your annual income in less than 20 years.
- Overtime pay
- Grievance procedure
- Wage increases every six months for Apprentices
- Employment security by obligating your employer to negotiate future contracts
- A drug policy to insure that you are treated fairly
- Training to keep your job skills current

* Up to six months free medical coverage if you are sick or injured.

* Up to two years of free medical coverage for your family in the event of your death.

* $50.00 per week in additional disability benefit if you are sick or injured for more than 30 days.

* Equal participation in one of the purest democratic processes. All major decisions are made by vote of the membership.

  · Contract approval, election of officers, even the 74 cent assessment was decided by membership vote.

* Workplace fairness

Q: DO I NEED A UNION TO GET ALL THESE THINGS?

Answers: No, you can negotiate independently with your employer for wages and benefits.

Beyond that employees have a right by law to engage in legal concerted activity on behalf of themselves and/or fellow workers to improve wages or working conditions.

YOU DO NOT NEED TO JOIN A UNION TO DO THIS.
Q: DOESN’T THE LAW REQUIRE WORKPLACE FAIRNESS?

Answers: Yes, to some extent the law requires workplace fairness and yes there are Government employees who’s job it is to insure the law is not broken.

- Do you know where to find these people?

- Do you know how to file a complaint?

In the Union system we address our concerns directly with our employers. Our working conditions that insure fairness are negotiated and incorporated into the working agreement we have between the employers and the union. The contract also contains procedures to follow when these conditions are not met.

As a result all issues of fairness are handled between the contract parties and hardly ever do we seek help from State or Federal Agencies. If we ever needed to those agencies are available to us the same as for any workers.

DON’T THEY HAVE PEOPLE TO ENFORCE THE LAW?

Q: I USED TO BE IN THE UNION BEFORE, CAN I GET BACK IN?

Answers:
Yes, joining again is the same as joining for the first time, $40.00 initiation fee.

The membership will welcome you back.

There was a time when we felt that once you left you should never return. Over the years we have come to realize that our strength and our future depends on our ability to represent ALL roofers and Waterproofers.

Q: WHAT ABOUT MY PENSION FROM BEFORE, DID I LOOSE IT ?

Answers: Pensions are protected by a Federal Law called the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

Under ERISA if you are not vested you may loose your pension after you have been gone as long as you were here.

Under our pension even if you have reached a “permanent break in service” (you have lost your pension) we will bring it back after six new years of continuous service. Not only will we bring it back we will update it to current value.

This is a tremendous benefit that most pension plans do not offer. What we are saying is you can get your pension back even if you lost it permanently by coming back and working 6 years for a signatory contractor. Not only that, when you qualify to get your pension credits back we will give you all of the increases you missed while you were gone.

If you were vested when you left your pension is as it was when you left. Again with six years continuous service we will update it to current value.

Q: WILL THE UNION KEEP ME WORKING ALL THE TIME ?

Answers: It is not the “union’s” responsibility to keep you working.

What will keep you working is the same thing that keeps you working now, your skills and the availability of work.

The availability of work depends on the economy not unionization.

If every contractor was union the exact same number of new roofs would be installed during any given year.

What unionization does is insure that you are paid and treated fairly for the work you do.

Unions take wages out of the competition, if everyone pays the same everyone competes at the same level.

Q: HOW CAN MY EMPLOYER COMPETE PAYING UNION WAGES ?

Answers: By basing their bids on productivity, the skill level of their employees and their ability to manage the job instead of taking from the workers.

No roofer or waterproofer is overpaid for the work they do

Q: IF WE GET PAID MORE ALL THAT DOES IS RAISE THE COST OF THE JOB, RIGHT?

Answers: Not if training is provided along with wage and benefit increases.

Through training of workers as well as management, labor costs can actually be lowered while at the same time increasing the earnings of the workers and the profit of the company.

Q: IS IT THE INTENTION OF THE UNION TO HARM OR PUT MY EMPLOYER OUT OF BUSINESS ?

Answers: No, unless your employer is a crook. We need employers they provide work and pay our members.

We do investigate and file complaints on employers who cheat their employees by breaking the law.

Our intention is to work with all legitimate contractors and help them in any way we can, so that all people in the roofing industry are able to earn a good living. A healthy, profitable contractor can sustain the decent wages and benefits all of us as roofers deserve.

Q: IF BEING UNION IS SO GOOD WHY AREN’T MORE EMPLOYERS UNION ?

Answers: There is no simple answer to this question.

For some employers it is lack of understanding as to how being union can help their business as well as helping their employees.

For others it is their need for absolute control and their fear that by becoming union they will loose some of that control.

A small minority may have had a bad experience in the past with a union.

More often than not the bad experience was not something they experienced personally rather a story they were told by another contractor or worse yet, a lawyer looking for a $250.00 per hour account.

Successful union contractors are good business people with good management skills. They see the union as an alliance that helps them from straying from their business plan and that supports them through training and other means when they want to expand or venture into other markets.

Beyond that the most common reason that more employers are not union is that employees do not realize that the decision to be union is theirs not the employers

Why would an employer would fear the decision his employees would make if they were truly given a fair opportunity to choose?

This is probably the most important answer we need ,if we are going to elevate the level of the American workplace to where it needs to be for us as well as our children who will inherit it tomorrow.

UNIONISM IS ABOUT PRIDE, PROFESSIONALISM. RESPECT, COMMITMENT, TEAMWORK, FINDING SOLUTIONS AND BUILDING FUTURES, TOGETHER

IN A RELATIONSHIP IN WHICH BOTH PARTNERS FEEL

THAT THEIR POSITION IS EQUALLY VALUED

ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE

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