Print Icon Nov 20, 2012


What Is A Union?

Many people have a basic idea of what a union is, but there are a lot of misconceptions.

People think that a union is some outside agent that rolls in and provides employees with annual raises, but a union is so much more than that.

First and foremost: a union is not an outside agent. The union is made up of you and your co-workers and puts you in a stronger position to fight for a better work environment.

What constitutes a better work environment? That depends on what you and your co-workers want. Maybe you feel like you're underpaid or that the company's health insurance package is expensive and lacking. Perhaps you're being harassed by management or witness favoritism at work. Is your work environment unsafe or are you using tools and machinery that are outdated? These are all issues that - with a proper contract - can be addressed by your union.

Forming a union gives you a legal foothold, giving you and your co-workers the power to change your workplace for the better.

Why Do I Need A Union?

Unions aren't just for down-and-out workers with terrible bosses. Even workers with decent employers can find themselves at odds with decisions that the company makes. In other words - unions aren't just about protecting workers from bad employers, they're about guaranteeing certain basic rights in the workplace. Consider a union contract a form of insurance that protects you and your co-workers from exploitation - whether intentional or otherwise.

Often times employers have blind spots. They fail to see the work you do from your perspective simply because they're not the ones doing the work. The changes they make - well-meaning as they may be - can actually be contrary to your needs. Building a union provides you and your co-workers a voice. It gives you the opportunity to protect your interests and preemptively wards off future decisions that may make your job harder, more dangerous, and/or less fulfilling.

How Do I Build A Union?

  1. Speak to your co-workers.
  2. Make a list of common concerns.
  3. Gather information about the workplace.
  4. Contact an organizer to schedule a meeting.

Building a union is a task that requires cooperation, effort, and hope. It's not always easy and you don't necessarily get everything you want, but you get what you put into it. Building a union at your workplace will easily be one of the best and most rewarding decisions you've ever made. Once that contract is signed you'll realize that you've just transformed the place in which you spend 40 hours each week. That's a change worth fighting for.

PPMWS represents over 8,000 workers in a diverse range of occupations in daily newspapers, commercial printing and mailing operations, graphic design, specialty manufacturing, publishing and distribution as well as the U. S. Government Printing Office. Our union combines the proud heritage of the International Typographical Union-the oldest continuously operating union in America-with the dynamic vision of the Communications Workers of America. The combination of these two influences provides our members and their families with responsive representation and progressive programs.

Communications Workers of America


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  Mailing Address:
219 Fort Pitt Blvd., 3rd Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
412-281-7268 PPMWS Main Phone Number
412-281-7815 PPMWS Fax
202-434-1100 CWA Main Switchboard
Dan Wasser, President
412-281-7845 Office of the President
Marcia Mikesell, Administrative Secretary
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