Frequently Asked Questions

What is a union and why would we need one at the Academy Foundation?   

A union is an organization formed by workers who come together and use their collective strength to have a voice in the workplace. Through their union, workers can negotiate from a position of strength with employers over wages, benefits, workplace health and safety, job training and other work-related issues. With a union, management must negotiate in good faith over the conditions of our employment. Unions also serve an important role in holding management accountable and treat workers with respect.  

What does the process of organizing a union look like? How long will it take?   

The first thing we need to do is talk to all our coworkers and understand the concerns and changes we want to see. Once we have a supermajority of support from workers across the Foundation, then we will sign our union cards. Then we will ask for voluntary recognition of our union from the Academy Foundation. If the Academy Foundation refuses to voluntarily recognize our union, then we will file for an election with the National Labor Relations Board. After our union is certified, either through recognition from the employer or an election, we will sit down with management and negotiate a contract that reflects our priorities. The process will go as quickly as we move it.   

Is it legal to unionize?    

It is our legally protected right to form our union according to the National Labor Relations Act. It is illegal for an employer to retaliate, intimidate or engage in any type of surveillance of workers forming a union. They are also not allowed to interrogate employees about their support for their union. No employer handbook or contract can take away that right. However, our best protection comes from standing together with a majority of our coworkers and voting to form our union.  

Will we have to pay union dues? I don’t know if I can afford to.   

Nobody will pay dues until we have successfully negotiated our contract and a majority of us have voted yes to approving it. Who would vote for a contract that isn’t worth their dues?   

Dues for our union will be $43.65 per month for full-time members (21-40 hours a week is considered full-time), $32.80 per month for part-time members (12-20 hours a week) and $22.20 per month for those working 12 hours or less per week.  

I don’t think we need a third party coming between us and management and telling us what to do.   

We are the union. We vote to form our union; we will decide what to negotiate for in our contract; and we will elect our local union officers. We have the backing of the largest movement of cultural workers via the Cultural Workers United national network. By joining AFSCME, we also join 1.4 million public service workers who have our back and will support us, along with resources like experienced negotiators, attorneys, researchers, and organizers.    

Will we lose our flexibility with the union?   

It is illegal for the employer to make any changes to the terms and conditions of our current working conditions in retaliation for forming our union. The truth is that management could take away that flexibility at any time if we don’t have our union. Securing flexible scheduling language in a contract makes it a policy we can continue to monitor and enforce.    

I have a good relationship with my supervisor...   

That’s great; many of us do have good relationships with our supervisors, but this isn’t about them. This is about us, the workers, having a voice. Supervisors change all the time and are limited in what they can do for employees. When we form our union, policies will be clearer and more consistent, which will make our supervisor’s job more defined and our relationship even better.