Union members engage in collective bargaining with their employees for acceptable wages.
A unionized store is a situation where all those hired by a unionized company must join that union. This happens when a company enters into a collective bargaining agreement negotiated by a union in a state where unions are legal. While a company may hire non-union people for the job, it is understood that these individuals will join the union as a condition of their employment. In places where union membership is optional, it is referred to as the right to work. In other words, all individuals have the right to work there, irrespective of their union membership.
The union clause that requires all workers to eventually join the union is also known as the union security clause. Those who work in unions must join the union, whether or not they agree with that union’s principles, within 30 days of being hired. The other option for employees is not to join the union, but still pay the union an amount equivalent to the dues. Although they do not have to participate in union activities, they do have to pay the money and abide by any labor agreements, as well as participate in any strikes. Many in this situation decide to join, simply because then they at least have the right to vote.
The main purpose of a union is to strengthen the collective bargaining position, if not simply by increasing the number and raising money through dues. It is based on the theory that the more numbers the union has, the more influence it has. This should give the union a greater negotiating advantage during the collective bargaining process.
The union store concept has been in use since the mid-20th century. It was then that the Taft-Hartley Act banned the store closed. Under the closed shop rules, an individual needed to be a union member before being hired for unionized work. In some cases, this made it difficult to locate employees, as most union members were already working. When it was banned, the union store concept was formed as a compromise between changing laws and the needs of unions.
As of late 2009, the division between unionized states and states operating under the right to work policy was somewhat even. Union store policies were in 28 states and 22 states were entitled to work. Union states claim to have better conditions for workers and to be able to offer better benefits. States with right-to-work policies dispute this argument, saying they are better able to attract new jobs and businesses quickly and adapt to changing needs more easily.