How to Become a Member

How Does Organizing Work?

Once a strong majority of employees commit to supporting the union, they approach the Labor Relations Board to have an election. After a majority of employees vote yes, management will be legally obligated to negotiate as equals with employees over wages, benefits and work rules.

In the meantime, you will form a committee of your co-workers to represent you at the bargaining table, along with a professional negotiator from AFSCME. The Bargaining Committee will distribute a survey to determine the priorities of the membership for the upcoming negotiations.

Once a tentative contract is reached between the Bargaining Committee and management, the contract will be voted on by all the union members at your workplace. If a majority votes to accept the contract, it will go into effect.

How Long Does That Process Take?

It can vary dramatically. It depends largely on the employees who are organizing the local; on how much time they can commit to the process, and how quickly they can move through the steps necessary to organize.

The time between starting to organize and holding a successful election typically takes more than a few months and less than a year, but each campaign is unique. Throughout their effort, the union will provide staff to assist workers who want to organize.

Why Do We Pay Dues And When Do We Start?

Dues allow workers to pool our limited resources together to fight for our interests. But you do not being paying dues until the first contract is signed. You will receive the resources and staff support of the union, for many months before you pay any dues.

What Happens To My Dues?

Your dues pay for a wide range of resources, staff, services and supplies that that all exist for one reason: to help members improve their pay, benefits and working conditions. The follow are just some of the services your dues pay for:

  • Expert negotiators to help you bargain a strong contract.
  • Professional staff representatives to help you solve on-the-job problems
  • Lawyers and legal researchers for work related legal matters, from contract language to grievance proceedings.
  • Communications professionals who will help you communicate your issues to the media, and keep you informed of other workplace struggles throughout the state.
  • Skilled lobbyists working for your interests in Rhode Island and Washington, D.C.
  • Budget experts who will analyze your employer’s budget and find hidden and wasted funds to pay for your raises and other benefits.
  • Researchers and a computerized data bank of AFSCME’s 3,000 plus contracts nationwide to help you find the fact and figures you need in negotiations, hearings and arbitrations.
  • Educators to train your local union leaders in how to provide you with strong, effective representation.
  • Organizers who work to steadily increase the number of represented employees, strengthening our collective voice in all arenas where important decisions are made about the quality of working people’s lives.
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