GLOSSARY OF TERMS
Choose one of the categories below to narrow your choiceLabor
Money employees pay to a labor union to help cover the union's expenses in collectively bargaining on their behalf - even if they do not want to become a member of the union.
Unions are required to provide nonmembers with an annual statement - known as a Hudson Notice - explaining how the union uses the agency fee.
The process in which employees of a company join together (as in a labor union) to negotiate working conditions (such as compensation and safety policies) with the employer.Referenced by...
1931 law requiring that workers on public works projects be paid local prevailing wages.
Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC)
A temporary work permit that allows an immigrant to work in a specialty occupation. It requires a higher education degree.Referenced by...
The minimum amount that an employee must be paid for an hour of work.
There are some employees who are not required to be paid the minimum wage, such as restaurant workers who receive tips.
The federal minimum wage has been increased several times over the years. See this chart for a list of all the changes.
Note: When News in Five discusses policies concerning the minimum wage, we are referring to the federal minimum wage. Individual states may enact laws that set a minimum wage higher than the one set by the federal government.
For more about the minimum wage, read the our discussion of the issue.Referenced by...
Hours worked in a week by an employee in excess of 40 hours.
The 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires most employees to be paid 1-1/2 times their regular rate for any overtime hours they worked....
"... no employer shall employ any of his employees... for a workweek longer than forty hours unless such employee receives compensation for his employment in excess of the hours above specified at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate at which he is employed."
A 2013 Congressional Research Service (CRS) overview of the FLSA states that, "The purpose of the overtime provision is to reduce unemployment by encouraging employers to hire more workers, rather than requiring current employees to work more than 40 hours per week and pay the premium overtime rate."
Click here to read the CRS overview.Referenced by...
A pension is money paid in regular intervals (monthly, for example) to someone who retires from a company (if the provides a pension).
Pensions effect those who receive them, but they also can affect the average American in obscure ways. Therefore, it's important to have a basic understanding of where the money to pay pensions comes from.
Companies that provide pensions to their employees create a separate fund that will pay when they retire...
Companies are required to pay the full amount of pensions unless they go bankrupt. Congress passed the Employee Retirement Income Security Act in 1974 and the Pension Protection Act in 2006 to protect pensions of retirees.
Pensions do not require a contribution by employees. In recent times, many companies have switched to retirement plans such as 401-K plans that are based on contributions by the employee.
In workplaces where unions represent a specific group of workers, the union negotiates wages, benefits, and working conditions for them using a process referred to as collective bargaining.
In many of these workplaces, all workers in that group are required to pay union dues. The requirement is specified in a Union Security Agreement.
Many states have adopted laws prohibiting union security agreements, meaning that employees cannot be compelled to join the union. These laws are referred to as right-to-work laws (and the states are referred to as right-to-work states). More than half of U.S. states have adopted right-to-work laws.
Even when employees aren't required to join a union, those that don't join still often obtain the benefits of collective bargaining - because it would be costlier for the company to negotiate separate packages for each non-union worker. If too many employees become "free riders", the union might not have enough income to continue representing employees. That would end collective bargaining for the group of employees - which typically leads to lower wages.
Most restaurant employees who traditionally receive tips - such as servers - may be paid a lower minimum wage than that for other workers (though if the employee's tips are less than the minimum wage, the restaurant must make up the difference).
The difference between the normal minimum wage and the lower amount the restaurant actually pays the employee is referred to as the tip credit.
Unemployment Insurance (UI)
Technically, a labor union (or simply union) is an organization of workers. However, it often is more useful to think of a labor union as an organization that represents a group of workers.
Labor unions have several functions, among which are...
The money to do all this comes from members (workers in the group) paying dues.Referenced by...
Union Security Agreement
An agreement between a labor union and an employer that specifies whether all employees in the group represented by the union are required to pay dues to the union - even if the employee chooses to not become a member of the union.
These agreements are a way of ensuring that all workers who benefit from collective bargaining pay the union for negotiating on their behalf.
The failure of employers to pay workers what they legally are entitled to. Many of the victims are low-wage workers.
In 2012, the amount of money recovered for victims of wage theft was about $1 billion - triple the amount of all the money stolen in robberies that year, according to a study by the Economic Policy Institute.