RESTAURANT WORKERS UNITED (RWU)
What does it mean to be a "member" of the
Restaurant Worker United.
When considering unionization, it is important for employees to understanding what it means to be a "Union Member"?
What are the responsibility, requirements and consequences of being a RWU member?
What power do employees give the union when they sign up to be a member?
Any union is only as strong as its membership. Membership is a union's only source of revenue. That is why it is so important for the RWU to get you to sign up. The RWU demands your authorization and commitment to their union. On the RWU Website (Join Us), employees are solicited to sign a union authorization card. Your signature authorizes the RWU "to be your exclusive representative" to handle all matters relative to your pay, hours, and terms and conditions. This includes the RWU right to represent you at your current employer and "future employers" making you bound by the RWU Constitution and its bylaws.
In review of the Restaurant Workers United Constitution, the RWU say "All workers in the industries on the RWU jurisdiction are eligible for membership." This includes unemployed or former restaurant/bar workers. The RWU rules go on to define that there are 2 forms of membership:
WORKING MEMBER status is "any worker who actively represented under a collective bargaining agreement (union contract) negotiated between RWU and the employer".
INDUSTRY MEMBER status is "any worker that is not currently represented under a collective bargaining agreement."
The RWU rules go on to explain that ONLY members in good standing have the rights to elect their show stewards, elect who represents them at negotiations, can ratify or reject a contract, or can authorize strikes. However, the rules warm members, if members behave badly, the union can CHARGE members for their actions and take them to a union disciplinary trial hearing. Members can be excelled or suspended for violating the union's rules such as "failure to pay dues."
But WHO ultimately has Control in the Union?
On page 5 of the RWU rules, it explains "The Executive Board shall have control of and be responsible for the affairs of the union" including distribution of union funds, authorizing demands during negotiations and strikes, reviewing union contracts to be sent to the members for a vote. So, at the end of the day, the RWU Executive Board calls the shots, not the members.
Federal law (NLRA) permits unions to prescribe their own set of rules and regulations upon their members. It is imperative for employees to understand and appreciate these rules prior to voting in a NLRB representation election. More importantly, employees need to recognize these binding obligations before pledging oath to union membership.
“[Federal law] recognizes the rights of unions to establish and enforce rules of membership and to control their internal affairs. This right is limited to union rules and discipline that affect the rights of employees as union members and that are not enforced by action affecting an employee’s employment. Also, rules to be protected must be aimed at matters of legitimate concerns to unions such as the encouragement of members to support a lawful strike or participation in union meetings. “
Section 8(b)(1)(A) National Labor Relations Act.