What is a union?

You and your coworkers are the union and make the decisions. A union is an organization made up of all our coworkers that uses our strength in numbers to make improvements in the workplace.

Who is SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania?

SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania is the largest, fastest growing union of healthcare workers in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We are part of SEIU Healthcare, which represents more than 1 million healthcare workers across the country.

Why do healthcare workers need a union?

Healthcare workers who have a union earn higher wages and have better benefits than non-union workers. But most importantly, union healthcare workers have a voice in the policies that affect them and their patients, residents, and clients on a daily basis. Right now, your employer makes 100% of the decisions at your facility. After forming your union, your employer must work with you and your coworkers — the union. As your union, you vote on your contract and make all other important decisions affecting quality care in your facility.

How do we form a union?

You form a union by uniting a majority of your coworkers and demanding that your employer recognize your union. If management refuses to recognize the union, a secret ballot election is held by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to certify that a majority of employees want to unionize.

Why do employers try to keep workers from forming a union?

When workers organize a union, employers fight back because they know when workers are united, we have the power to lock in improvements in a legally-binding contract – such as fair wages, increased staffing levels, and fair disciplinary processes. When workers organize their union, it is very common for employers to hire expensive union-busting consultants, to hold mandatory meetings designed to threaten and scare employees, and engage in many other practices to divide you.

Who runs the union?

You do! It’s your union. When you form your union, you will elect representatives from every department to be the leaders of your union. You also elect the members of the negotiating committee that will represent you at the bargaining table with management. Everyone gets to vote on whether to accept a contract or not.

Will we lose what we already have?

Management will say that negotiating is a gamble and you will lose what we already have. That’s not true. In fact, once you win your union, federal law protects your current working conditions from being changed without your input. You have the ultimate say in what you will accept in your contract.

The bargaining committee that you elect develops contract proposals based on what you and your coworkers want to keep and want to change. Then the committee presents these proposals to management. The committee and management then negotiate a contract based on these proposals.

What about union dues?

Dues in SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania are 1.8% of our gross pay, not including overtime, plus a dollar. So for every $100 we make, we pay $1.80 in dues – which goes into a patient and healthcare workers defense fund.

No one pays union dues until we vote to approve our contract. Union dues are how we make the union work for us. Dues are used to negotiate contracts, communicate with and mobilize our members to make our union the strongest it can be.

If I join the union, won’t I have to go on strike?

Strikes are the strongest tool we have at our disposal, but deciding to use it is a serious decision. Your union in your chapter (that’s you and your coworkers!) will only go on strike if you and your coworkers vote to go on strike. You are the only ones who can decide what is important enough for you to strike.

Ready to learn more about forming a union?