Can Felons Get Union Jobs?

What is a Union Job?

A union job is one where you are part of a labor union. Labor unions provide support to employees by providing better working conditions and regular wages. Being part of labor unions also provides a certain amount of job security as you are part of a larger group that has good representation inside the organization.

Benefits of Joining a Union

Being part of labor unions can be beneficial in numerous ways

  1. Negotiate favorable working conditions
    Unions often set basic conditions to be associated with any organization. So it is almost certain that unions provide jobs in organizations that maintain a good hygienic working environment, take care of employee health and safety, and provide decent remuneration. 
  2. Collective bargaining
    Unions work along with management and often represent employees in the decision-making process. They can ensure that employees are not exploited and their voice is heard
  3. Better Pay Scale
    Union jobs provide better salaries compared to others in similar fields. Employees also get pay raises on a regular basis.
  4. Better Employee Benefits
    Union jobs provide better employee benefits like healthcare, retirement accounts, and paid sick leave.
  5. Greater Job Security
    Employees holding union jobs cannot be fired without legitimate causes like misconduct or poor performance while those holding non-union jobs can be fired for any petty reason that doesn’t amount to discrimination.

Types of Labor Unions

Union jobs can be primarily classified into 3 types

  1. Craft unions – They include jobs that are particular to certain trade skills or other skills. Machinists, Carpenters, and Electricians, etc belong to craft unions
  2. Industry Unions – They include jobs that belong to certain industries and not to specific skills. Transportation and food services belong to Industry Unions.
  3. Public Employee Unions – Government jobs fall under public employee unions.

An opportunity for Felons?

Joining employee unions does not guarantee that you will get a job. Many jobs are subject to strict background checks and having a criminal history may jeopardize your chances. However, not all jobs fall into this category.

So, it is always better to be a part of a union that has a good presence in your field of work

Sometimes, standards set by unions may also make it difficult to find a job. In such cases, you might want to enquire which unions can give you better job prospects

Felons with certain offenses like assault, fraud, sexual crime, theft, homicide, etc may find it difficult to get jobs even after being part of unions as many industries do not hire employees with such offenses.

It is important to be as honest as possible while you fill up an application to join a union. If any information provided by you is found to be untrue at a later stage then it will be considered fraud and can also result in you being sent back to prison.

Recommended Action

In some states, it is possible to get criminal records expunged or sealed after a certain period of time. Not all offenses can be expunged but minor offenses and misdemeanor offenses can usually be expunged after a period of 8-10 years.

Expunged records may not show up in background checks and improve your chances of getting a job

If you have been part of any training programs or completed any additional educational courses, it is important that you have documents that can validate it. This might be helpful to get jobs that require certain skills.