You have the advantage.
Being part of an organized group along with your colleagues means you have the power to bargain; the power to negotiate; and the power to change things, win improvements, and achieve goals that matter to you and the people you serve.
Using Your Collective Power
You have the power to collectively influence state legislatures, school boards and employers on professional issues, class size, salaries, benefits and career development—through collective bargaining, as well as through lobbying and processes like elected consultation.
For instance, in Texas, which doesn’t allow collective bargaining for most public employees, the AFT leads the way in gaining elected consultation, which ensures members have a voice in what affects them. Members in Texas also use their collective voice and power to help mobilize support for vital public services. In March 2011, a crowd of some 12,000 rallied in the state capital to call on legislators to use “rainy day” funds to avoid devastating budget cuts in public services and education. “The worst thing a state can do in an economic downturn is to weaken basic public services,” says Texas AFT president and AFT vice president Linda Bridges.
Earning a Better Wage
Being a union member means you’re likely to earn more money. On average, union workers’ wages are 30 percent higher than their nonunion counterparts. In professional fields—such as education, training and library occupations— unionized workers earn nearly 21 percent more than their nonunion counterparts. In healthcare and technical occupations, union workers earn more than 12 percent more.
Enjoying Better Benefits
Members of unions also are more likely to be covered by health insurance and receive pension benefits. As of March 2010, 84 percent of union members were covered by health insurance through their jobs, compared with only 55 percent of nonunion workers. And 87 percent of union workers participated in pension plans, compared with 49 percent of nonunion workers.