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What does a Union Organizer do?

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  • Written By: Sara Schmidt
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Images By: n/a, Petr Nad, Andreas Karelias, Chiakto, Kheel Center
  • Last Modified Date: 03 December 2016
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Many people join unions in order to ensure that they are provided with basic benefits, fair wages, and rights as workers. A union organizer is a person who is either appointed or elected to service these union members. He or she usually has dozens of duties, including assisting non-union workers in forming their own unions.

Most union organizers work to recruit workers for their unions. They may distribute leaflets, inform workers on the benefits of joining a union, and develop union contracts. Union organizing involves visiting job sites as well as learning about job sites before a visit, including completing research on the site's products, physical nature, ownership, method of distribution, products made and sold, competitors, and more information.

Ensuring that union members' rights under the union are honored is another job of the union organizer. Some of these rights include limited work week hours, health benefits, the right to assemble, and the right to perform collective bargaining for new rights. Union organizers may also form committees to help run campaigns and manage worker concerns.

Another role of the union organizer is to enforce work rules. Keeping accurate and up-to-date records, usually on a computer data base, is usually required of the job as well. Many organizers are required to submit daily reports of their activities and progress.

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Though a union organizer may be an elected official from his or her union, he or she may also be a paid employee. This is often the case when union organizers are needed to help unionize companies or work sites without unions. Volunteers may also be used for this purpose.

Some union organizer jobs include a public speaking role. In this case, the trade union member would be responsible for representing his or her union at public events, rallies, strike action events, and other labor rights activities. He or she may also represent his or her union during legal proceedings, business meetings, and other official events.

The work environment of a union organizer can vary dramatically. He or she may work primarily in the office or out in the field with various labor unions. Long hours, overtime, and varied schedules are common in this career.

To be a successful organizer, a person must be competent and trustworthy. He or she should have excellent communication skills. The ability to answer worker questions is also important. Organizers should be aware that in many areas around the world, union organizers are threatened with physical harm, and should prepare for these situations. Organizers should also understand federal and state labor laws, be able to engage workers, be able to write well, use good judgment, and have superior leadership skills.

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