Glossary of Labor Lingo & Acronyms

American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)

A labor federation created by a merger between the AFL (American Federation of Labor) and the CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations) in 1955.  Though the AFL-CIO is based in Washington, DC there are also bodies at the state (often called the “State Fed”) and local (referred to as “Labor Councils”) levels.  The AFL-CIO is a federation of over 50 labor unions in the United States, representing over 9 million American workers.  www.aflcio.org

Affirmative Action Plans/Affirmative Employment Plans (AAP)

Written plans for programs required by Executive Order 11478 and other laws and regulations. AAP’s may contain studies which show how the work force at the activity has been used, and may include goals and timetables for increasing the representation of protected class members in those areas where they have been under represented.

Bargaining Agent

Union designated by a government agency, such as the Federal Labor Relations Board, or recognized voluntarily by the employer, as the exclusive representative of all employees in the bargaining unit for purposes of collective bargaining.

Bargaining Council

Groups which facilitate the negotiation process between unified employees and employers on matter such as working conditions.  The aim is to provide a forum for collective bargaining by which settlement on matters of joint interest can be reached through negotiation.  The agreed conditions are then applied to all employees within the relevant sector.

Bargaining Team

The union or employer negotiators who will actually be at the bargaining table and actively involved in the negotiations towards a contract.

Bargaining Unit (BU)

A group of employees in a given workplace that has sufficient commonality of interest to constitute a unit for purposes of collective bargaining.  The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) or similar federal, state or local agency usually defines a bargaining unit.

Boycott

A concerted refusal to purchase from, or handle the products of an employer or company.

Canvass

A method of talking individually to every member of a bargaining unit to either convey information, gather information on a survey, or plan for united action.

Charge

A written statement of alleged unfair practices.  Filing a charge with the Federal Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is the first step in an unfair labor practice proceeding.  If the NLRB decides to take up the charge, it will isue a formal complaint to start an unfair labor practice hearing.

Central Labor Council (CLC)

Central labor Councils are AL-CIO umbrella groups that include many unions in the area.  They partner with state and community organizations and conduct state, local and national campaigns to improve life for working families.

Closed Shop

An agreement between an employer and a union that, as a condition of employment, all employees must belong to the union before being hired.  The employer agrees to retain only those employees who belong to a union.  (Florida is  a so-called “right to work for less” state that bans companies and unions from entering into such an agreement.)

Collective Bargaining

A process which workers, through their bargaining team and/or bargaining council, deal as a group to determine the working conditions of employees.  Normally, the result of collective bargaining is a written contract which covers all workers in the Bargaining Unit.

Collective Bargaining Agreement or Contract

A formal written agreement over conditions of employment entered into by an employer and the union representing employees in the bargaining unit.

Constituency Group

The AFL-CIO’s constituency groups are unions’ bridge to diverse communities, creating and strengthening partnerships to enhance the standard of living for all workers and their families.  The groups also promote the full participation of women and minorities in the union movement and ensure unions hear and respond to the concerns of the communities they represent.  The AFL-CIO constituency groups: Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), Asion Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU), Coalition of Union Women (CLUW), Union Veterans Council (UVA), Pride at Work: LGBT & Allies (P@W), A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI)

Districts

CWA members are divided into Districts and Sectors.  Districts are directed by a Vice President that administers support services to locals.

Duty of Fair Representation (DFR)

A unions’s obligation to represent all people in the bargaining unit as fairly and equally as possible.  This requirement applies both in the creation and interpretation of collective bargaining agreements.  A union is said to have violated its Duty of Fair Representation when a union’s conduct toward a member of a bargaining unity is arbitrary, discriminatory, or in bad faith. A union steward, for example, may not ignore a grievance which has merit, nor can that grievance be processed in a perfunctory manner.  It should be noted, however, that the employee in the bargaining unit has no absolute right to have a grievance taken to arbitration.

Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO)

Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) is the law.  Applicants and employees are protected under federal laws from discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, and age.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a government agency that oversees the discrimination complaint process and enforces Federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.  These laws protect employees and job applicants against employment discrimination when it involves unfair treatment because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age (40 or older), or disability.  Also, harassment by managers, co-workers or others in the workplace due to the same, denial of a reasonable workplace accommodation that the employee needs because of religious beliefs or disability, and retaliation because the employee complained about job discrimination, or assisted with a job discrimination lawsuit or investigation would also be covered by the EEOC.

Exclusive Representation

The employee organization that, as a result of certification by a labor board, has the right to to be the sole collective bargaining agent of all employees in an appropriate bargaining unit.

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Th 1938 federal Wage-Hour Law which establishes minimum wage, maximum weekly hours and overtime pay requirements in industries engaged in interstate commerce.  The law also prohibited the labor of children under 16 years of age.

Family and Medical Leave Ace (FMLA)

The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave.

Free Riders

Used in an open shop to refer to non-union members who receive all the benefits derived from collective bargaining without paying union dues or equivalent fees.

Grandfather Clause

A contract provision specifying that employees on the payroll before a specified time will retain certain rights and benefits even though newer employees are not entitled to these rights.

Grievance

Any type of worker dissatisfaction including violations of the collective bargaining agreement, violations of law, violations of employer policies, violations of fair treatment, and violations of past practices.  The definition of a grievance is usually part of the contract, and therefor may vary from one contract to another. (See page 188 in the Core AT&T Contract for Grievance Definitions and Procedures)

Grievance Arbitration

A dispute resolution process whereby a neutral third party – the arbitrator – hears a grievance and makes a decision that is usually both final and binding on both parties.

Housecalls

Term used to describe visits by union staff, volunteers, or organizing committee to the the hones of workers they are attempting to organize.  Such visits give organizers an opportunity to discuss the union and answer questions of unorganized workers in a relaxed and secure atmosphere.

Informational Picketing

Picketing done with the express intent not to cause a work stoppage, but to publicize either the existence of a labor dispute or information concerning the dispute.

Just Cause

A reason an employer must give for any disciplinary action it takes against an employee.  An employer must show just cause only if a contract requires it.  Most contracts have just cause requirements which place the burden of proof for just cause on the employer.  NOTE:  All contracts with AT&T represented employees in this local have such a clause.

Labor Board

Quasi-judicial agency set up under national labor relations acts.  Its duties include defining appropriate bargaining units, conducting elections to determine if workers want union representation, certifying unions to represent employees, and hearing and adjudicating complaints by either the union or the employer charging unfair labor practices.

Lockout

A suspension of work initiated by the employer as the result of a labor dispute. A lockout is the employer counterpart of a strike.  Used primarily to pressure employees to accept the employer’s terms in a new contract.

Made Whole

A catchall phrase used in grievance and other legal action where a remedy is sought from an employer. Often used in discharge and discipline cases where the union seeks to have a worker, who had been wrongly discharged or disciplined, returned to work and reimbursed all wages, benefits, or other conditions lost due to an employer’s unjustified action.

International Executive Board (CWA)

The International Executive Board of the CWA is made up of all elected District and Sector Vice Presidents, the Secretary-Treasurer and the President of the International.

Lost Wages

When official union time is granted to an employee by the local to perform representational functions on behalf of the union she or he is entitled to lost wages.  This time is granted without charge to personal leave or loss of pay, when the employee would otherwise be in a duty status and is considered only during scheduled hours of work.  The company typically pays travel time and lost wages for all conferences with management, such as Grievances or Local Governing Partnerships (LGP) meetings.

Open Shop

Where employees do not have to belong to the union or pay dues to secure or retain employment, even though there may be a collective bargaining agreement.  The Union is obligated by law to represent members and non-members equally regardless of whether it is an open shop or a closed shop.

Organizer

A person usually employed by a union, whose function it is to enlist the employees of a particular employer to join the union.

Past Practice

A customary way of doing things not written into the collective bargaining agreement.  Past practices can sometimes be enforced through the grievance procedure if the practice has been longstanding, consistent, and accepted by the parties.

Phone Banking

The organized telephoning of large numbers of members to inform them of a union policy, political activity/action or to gather information.  This is often done by volunteers who come into the union hall and telephone members during a certain time period.

Picketing

Workers carrying signs and/or distributing literature protesting working conditions or actions taken by the employer.  Picketing occurs during a strike or as an “informational” picket.  The purpose of the tactic is to put pressure on the employer by informing the public and other workers about unfair working conditions.

Rank and File

The members of a union.  This term does not apply to the leadership of a union.

Ratification

Formal approval of a newly negotiated contract/agreement by vote of the union members affected.

Scab

A person who continues to work, or who accepts employment, while workers are on strike.  By filling workers’ jobs, scabs may weaken or break the strike.

Seniority

Preference accorded employees, based on length of service with an employer, in such areas as surplus, recall, promotion, transfer, vacation accrual, scheduling, shift assignment, etc.

Shop Steward

The union representative of a group of fellow employees who carries out duties of the union within the workplace.  Example: Handling grievances, recruiting new members and monitoring compliance with the contract.  The steward usually is either elected by other union members or appointed by higher union officials.  The steward usually remains an employee while handling uion business.  Some release time (with or without pay) may be available to stewards under specific language in many collective bargaining contracts.

State Federations (State Fed)

State Federations are AFL-CIO umbrella groups that include many unions in the area.  They partner with state and community organizations and conduct state, local and national campaigns to improve life for working families.

Strike

A concerted act by a group of employees who withhold their labor for the purpose of affecting a change in wages, hours or working conditions.

Unfair Labor Practice (ULP)

An employer or union practice forbidden by the NLRB, or state and local laws, subject to court appeal.  It often involves the employers efforts to avoid bargaining in good faith.  Other examples may include management’s failure to provide relevant information the union has requested for either bargaining or grievance handling purposes or management’s repeated failure to implement grievance settlements or arbitration awards.  Some state laws may use the the “prohibited practices”.

Union Label or Bug

A stamp or tag on a product or card in a store or shop to show that the work is done by union labor. The “bug” is the printer’s symbol.

Weingarten Rights

The rights of employees covered by the NLRA to request union representation during investigatory interviews if they reasonably believe that the interview could result in their being disciplined.  Weingarten rights also guarantee the rights of union representatives to assist and counsel employees during interview which could lead to discipline.

Wrongful Termination

A civil action or lawsuit brought by a discharged employee against the employer, alleging that the termination violated or breached a statutory right, expressed public policy, or an employment contract.

 

 

Resources:
AFGE's Y.O.U.N.G. WTH flyer
-"A Glossary of Labor Lingo". AFSCME Next Wave. http://www.afscme.org/news/publications/next-wave-tookit. 7/25/2012
-Ucomm radio. "Union Terms". http://ucommradio.com/glassary. 7/25/2012