Questions

 

Below are some of our most frequently asked questions. Don't see your question or want more information? Contact us today!

What is Local 21?

  • We’re professionals, why do we need a union?
  • Why should I become a member? What are the privileges of union membership?
  • How much are union dues?
  • Why does the union need more members?
  • What is the difference between a dues-paying member and a fee payer?
  • What are union dues spent on?
  • How does the union make decisions?
  • How can I ensure that my voice is heard?
  • If I have a work-related problem, who in the union should I contact?
  • How do I know what type of issues the union addresses, or what types of issues are outside the scope of the union?

 


What is Local 21?

Organized in San Francisco in 1911, Professional & Technical Engineers, Local 21 is one of the fastest growing local unions in the state and is recognized as one of the most effective institutions in the Bay Area.

Representing more than 8,000 professional, technical, and administrative employees in 20 public agencies throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, Local 21 serves the interests and professional growth of its members who contribute greatly to the welfare, infrastructure and prosperity of our communities. Local 21’s diverse membership includes engineers, information technology professionals, architects, planners, accountants, court professionals and a host of other professionals in various occupations.

We’re professionals, why do we need a union?

Today, more than ever before, professionals are facing new challenges in their careers. In the private sector, as businesses and employers have adapted to new constraints and world-wide competition, many government agencies have followed suit by seeking out ways to reduce costs, privatize public facilities, and outsource government services. Men and women working in technical and professional occupations, once considered life-long jobs, are confronted with wage and benefit reductions, potential job loss, and increasing demands for greater skills and education.

Furthermore, public sector professionals are frequently subjected to the vagaries of political whims and outside interest groups. We need a union to ensure our skills and integrity are protected and respected. Through our union we are able to utilize sophisticated strategies and guarantee that we receive the deserved recognition for high level performance, while protecting our members from take-backs, cronyism, and harassment.

Why should I become a member? What are the privileges of union membership?

Only members can…

  •     Have a say in what goes in our contract
  •     Vote on tentative agreements
  •     Elect officers and delegates to the governing body of the union
  •     Serve as officers, stewards, and negotiating committee members

Members also receive…

  •     Legal consultation and advice
  •     Annual scholarship opportunities
  •     Membership assistance program
  •     Discounts: cell phones, insurance, health and welfare, travel, car rentals, amusement parks, etc.


How much are union dues?

Dues are 0.963 percent of pay – less than one percent. Dues are a small financial investment that pays for itself many times over in the form of better wage increases and benefits, and improved job security. There is no initiation fee.

Why does the union need more members?

Our power at the negotiating table is directly related to how many employees choose to join the union. When we negotiate with our employer for a new contract or when we file grievances, we want to be in the strongest position possible. This includes having a large, informed, and active membership.

What is the difference between a dues-paying member and a fee payer?

A (dues-paying) member is someone who chooses to join Local 21 and pays union dues.  In order to be a member, that person must sign a Local 21 application form which then authorizes Local 21 as their exclusive collective bargaining representative. It also authorizes pre-set deductions from their wages to be certified dues/fees/contributions to the union.  In exchange for being a member and paying dues, members are entitled to all the membership rights stated above.

If a bargaining unit has been designated agency shop per the terms of their contract, employees who choose not to join the union can be designated “fee payers.” These individuals are in the union’s bargaining unit and pay a fee equivalent to union dues for services provided by the union. Under the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act, Agency Shop is defined as “a requirement, usually contained in a negotiated agreement, that all employees in a bargaining unit pay a fee (often called a “fair share” or “service” fee) covering the cost of representation to the employee organization that is the exclusive representative of the unit.”

What are union dues spent on?

Union dues all go back into the union to pay for operating costs which include staff salaries, legal representation, economic consultants, research and survey polls, Delegate Assembly facility rental, chapter meeting incidentals, printing and materials, and other overhead costs. While the union does occasionally make political contributions, those funds come from members' donations to the T. J. Anthony Political Action Fund – not dues. (For more information on the Local 21’s Political Action, see Section VII)

How does the union make decisions?

Since it is the members who make up the union, all decisions must be approved by the members in a variety of forums including chapter meetings, Delegate Assemblies, and general membership votes. The union also has a number of advisory bodies, made up of members, which work on special issues facing the membership.

How can I ensure that my voice is heard?

The most effective way to ensure your voice is heard is to be involved in the union. By attending chapter meetings you can voice your concerns and ideas to your chapter leadership while staying informed about union-related happenings. The union also has a number of advisory groups and special committees made up of members which new and current members can get involved in.  Additionally, each chapter has designated delegates who vote on behalf of their chapter at Delegate Assemblies. Each chapter selects their delegate(s) to cast votes, but all members are welcome to attend Delegate Assemblies and participate in all aspects except voting. Local 21 also produces a number of newsletters designed to keep members updated on events in their own and other Local 21 chapters.

If I have a work-related problem, who in the union should I contact?

The first step in seeking help from the union is contacting your steward or Professional Rights Representative (PRR). A PRR can represent you and your issues in a meeting with the manager to address the situation. If the situation is not rectified, your steward / PRR will work with you to file a grievance or pursue the appropriate next steps. For disciplinary cases, the steward / PRR will be your biggest asset in obtaining the initial information and documentation needed to allow a Local 21 Staff Representative/Organizer to effectively and successfully take on your case.

How do I know what type of issues the union addresses, or what types of issues are outside the scope of the union?

The union’s role is to address issues that impact you as a professional in the public sector.  Typically, the union has the right to bargain over and monitor implementation of anything dealing with compensation, benefits, and working conditions. This means handling a variety of issues ranging from answering questions about employment rights, representing you in a grievance, collective bargaining for a new contract or provision, or assisting you in a disciplinary situation. Your steward or Professional Rights Representative can also help you understand provisions in your contract and assist you in the initial steps of filing a grievance.  Routine issues like enrolling in a health plan, questions about your paycheck, etc., should be addressed directly with your employer.