Included in this packet are a number of materials concerning advantages to union members and basic information about our organization and movement. Obviously, among the most important and most obvious benefits of unionization are the wages, benefits and protections contained in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). You should have received a printed copy from the employer. If not, get one of the union delegates in your shop to make sure you receive a copy.
Our CBAs, as well as other documents concerning our benefits, digital copies of the additional materials in this packet, and more, can be found on our website. Among the links there, two will take you to additional information on the websites of the local to which we belong as a unit, the National Organization of Legal Services Workers (UAW Local 2320), and of our international union, the UAW.
The first document in your packet (after this letter) describes your “Weingarten” rights under federal labor law to have a union representative present at any meeting where your job or working conditions may be on the line.
The delegate assembly directory gives you contact info for all the current leadership of LSSA, as well as an overview of how our union is structured and where our shops are located. The next document on union structure gives you a bit more information about LSSA, as well as NOLSW/2320, the UAW, and the AFL-CIO to which the UAW belongs. You are encouraged to look at the LSSA bylaws on the website. Because we encourage full, democratic involvement in the union, the next document is a short guide to efficient participation in meetings.
After that, you will find a brief history of our union and our movement at all levels, supplemented with the UAW’s illustrated summary of American labor history, This Union Cause. Then you have a copy of the complete lyrics to the labor movement anthem Solidarity Forever.
More info on the purposes, structure, and finances of the UAW is available in the next three documents. First is a special issue of Solidarity the UAW magazine that comes regularly to members’ homes. Next is “Basics,” true to its name, and third is It Pays To Belong about UAW dues and how they are spent. LSSA collects more dues (or fees from non-members) than strictly required by the UAW, primarily in order to support enhanced strike benefits and a certain degree of fiscal autonomy, e.g. to authorize arbitrations on behalf of bargaining unit member rights. The next document tells you more about this.
The next set of documents concerns some of the benefits available to members other than healthcare, retirement contributions, educational loan reimbursement and the like. These other benefits include 1) classes and tuition reimbursement through the Region 9A Ed Fund, 2) the services of our credit union; 3) various services and discounts available through the UAW supported Union Plus credit card program, 4) benefits payable to members in the event of a strike.
Next, you will find a pamphlet about the UAW’s political work through its Community Action Program (CAP), and another about the importance of V-CAP voluntary contributions to CAP for work that cannot be supported with dues money. The priorities of Legal Services workers, with our reliance on public funding and our vulnerable clientele, have benefited disproportionately from the work of the CAP, and in our UAW region (9A), participants in the V-CAP are automatically entered in an annual raffle with prizes such as laptops.
At the back of your packet, you will find check-off forms which are also available as appendices to our Collective Bargaining Agreements. “Appendix B” is to elect between being an LSSA member or an “agency fee payer”. Both pay the same amount to the union and are represented by the union without discrimination. However, members have a voice and a vote (in addition to the member services described above), while agency fee payers do not. “Appendix C” is an authorization to deduct and pay monthly contributions to V-CAP, described above.
An old union hymn says “You got to go and join the union; you got to join it for yourself”. If youv’e done so, we will submit your check-off form to management, but please give your delegate a couple of pieces of information which aren’t on the check-off form and which will not be shared with management. Please let us know your non-work e-mail address if you have one, to use in reaching you with information that is urgent or cannot be disseminated over the Legal Services e-mail system. Also tell us what size LSSA tee-shirt you would like, bearing in mind that you may have occasion to wear it over warmer clothes. And watch for your union card. Follow up with your delegate to make sure you receive it, and carry it with pride.