Answers to Your Questions.

Workers United, Upstate New York and Vermont, is a union which is generally recognized as one of the most successful organizing unions today given their efforts with the highly publicized Starbucks and Ben & Jerry’s campaigns. They are committed to organizing all workers in order to raise conditions across an industry and empower all workers to achieve workplace democracy. Workers United is a division of SEIU, a very large national union. 

The workers at a given workplace run the union. Some anti-union employers call the union an “outside third party” to try to mislead workers and make the union seem like something workers will have no control over. This is simply false. The union is the workers themselves.  It is not an “outside third party.” 

Union dues for full time workers are $10.84 per week.  If you work less than 25 hours, dues are $5.47 per week, and if you work one day a week, they are only $2. There are no dues until AFTER you negotiate and vote on a union contract. Dues are used for helping other workers organize, legal support, staff support, education, communications, lost time pay for stewards and negotiating committee members, etc. 

Ultimately, that’s up to us the workers at each workplace to decide. 

Typically union contracts speak to issues such as:

  • Staffing levels
  • Compensation
  • Benefits
  • Protection from unfair discipline and firings
  • Creation of joint labor/management committees
  • Fair promotion procedures
  • Health Insurance
  • Retirement and/or 401k
  • Health and Safety on the job
  • Right to have union representatives on the job to help when needed
  • Union grievance and arbitration procedure
  • Leave of absence rights


It is important to note that there are no promises as to what will be in your union contract. This depends on what you are able to negotiate and what is most important to you. 

Workers United believes in a workplace where all workers have a democratic voice. We are not against our employers. In fact, we want to partner with our employers to make the business more successful. Such partnerships must be formed out of true equality and mutual respect. .   By building unions, our union is advancing social and economic justice in our communities. 

Our union’s values are inclusiveness, compassion, joy, creativity, respect, and solidarity.

A union contract, also known as a collective bargaining agreement, is a document negotiated between workers and management. The contract sets forth the pay, benefits, policies, rights on the job and working conditions at the company or non-profit organization. Before the contract goes into effect it must be voted on (ratified) by workers.

It is illegal for employers to retaliate in any way against workers for organizing a union. It is unlawful for the company to threaten to fire people, or to close the business, or to take away benefits. If a company does break the law, then the union can file a charge with the Labor Board and the government may prosecute the company for the violation.