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Union 101

Who joins unions?

At the UFCW, our membership is made up of slightly more women than men. We have members in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, as well as in Canada. We also have among the youngest memberships of any major labor union, with a high percentage of our members under the age of 35. They work part time and full time. We’re proud of the diversity of our membership.

There’s a stereotype out there that union members are all older men who work in manufacturing. This is partly because of the dated way the “working class” is often depicted in news articles, movies, and TV shows. But the reality of who joins unions these days is as diverse as our workforce itself. Today, union members work in offices or customer service. They sell sporting goods or stock shelves. If you’re getting a paycheck and you aren’t someone’s boss, you can almost certainly join a union.

“Being a part of the union makes your voice stronger–it protects your job and your coworkers’ jobs. In health care today, when we all risk just becoming a number, the union has our backs.”

– Nicole Worley, Nurse & UFCW 21 Member

There are many different unions out there, and most tend to focus on a few main industries, but there’s no rule that says all nurses belong to one union or all retail workers belong to another. At the UFCW, most of our membership is made up of members in the grocery, retail, food processing, meat packing, health care, distillery, cannabis, and chemical industries, but we have members who work all kinds of jobs.

What union workers at a given workplace decide to join is up to the workers who initially vote on who will represent them. That decision may be based on what industry they work in, but it could also be something simple like what the nearest union office is or knowing other workers who already belong to a particular union.

It’s also worth noting that people who join unions aren’t people who hate their jobs, or even who don’t like their managers. Most of them love their jobs and want to either make sure they stay good jobs, or care enough about their work to want to make it a better place. While you might love the manager you have now, what would happen if they had to leave and were replaced with someone else who took an entirely different approach? What about problems that are well above what your manager can even address at their level?

If you or someone you know wants to join a union, or is even just curious and wants to learn more about how we work, feel free to drop us a line and we’ll put you in touch with one of our organizers.

Organize your workplace

Are you and your coworkers ready to negotiate together for bigger paychecks, stronger benefits and better lives? If you are, the steps to joining the UFCW are simple.

How to Get Started