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UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE (UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION). Joint federal-state program, established in 1935 under the Social Security Act and subject to the standards set forth in the Federal Unemployment Tax Act, under which states administered funds obtained through payroll taxes provide payments to eligible unemployed persons for specified periods of time. Levels of benefits and tax rates are established by each state. Generally, excluded groups include among others, railroad workers (covered by Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act), agricultural workers, state and municipal employees, and workers in nonprofit institutions. The federal part of the program is administered by the United States Department of Labor.

UNEMPLOYMENT PAY. Compensation to a person no longer employed.

UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICE. Action by either an employer or union which violates the provisions of national or state labor relations act, such as refusal to bargain in good faith.

UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICE STRIKE. A strike caused, at least in part, by an employer’s unfair labor practice.

UNFAIR LIST. Union list of employers designated as unfair to organized labor.

UNFUNDED PLAN. A plan (e.g., pension plan) under which benefits are paid, like wages, directly from an employer’s general assets, often as a payroll item, as distinguished from a fund irretrievably segregated from the general assets of the firm and separately administered. Some pension plans are funded in part and unfunded with regard to certain benefits. ( PAY-AS-YOU-GO.)

UNION. An organization with the legal authority to negotiate with the employer on behalf of the employees and to administer the ensuing agreement. Unions are voluntary organizations and need no license from the government to operate. Also known as labor union, labor organization.



UNION CONVENTION. An assembly of delegates meeting periodically to act on union problems, elect officers, and determine policies. The convention is typically the chief governing body of the union in constitutional terms.

UNION DUES. Fee paid periodically, usually monthly, by members of a union, typically as a condition of continued membership. Each union sets its own dues requirement. (See CHECK-OFF.)

UNION LABEL (BUG). Tag, imprint, or design attached to an article as evidence that it was produced by union labor.

UNION LEAVE. Paid or unpaid, but excused, leave for union representatives, shop stewards, etc. to attend to union business, e.g., participating in union conventions.

UNION-MANAGEMENT COOPERATION. Voluntary joint participation of union and management in solving problems such as production and safety, or in engaging in certain outside activities, such as community or charitable work. The term is usually reserved to joint actions outside of the process of collective bargaining itself.

UNION MEMBER. A union member may be defined in broad terms as a worker who has met the union’s qualification for membership, has joined the union, and has maintained his membership rights. Each union usually determines its own qualifications. In general, dues-paying members are those who pay dues to the union on a regular basis. Members in good standing include dues-paying members and members exempted for various reasons (unemployed, on strike, ill, etc.) but carried on the union rolls as full-fledged members. Book members are those listed on the union rolls, dues-paying or not.


UNION RATE. An hourly rate, usually a single rate for an occupation or trade, established by agreement reached through collective bargaining. A union rate or scale is usually the minimum rate that may be paid to qualified persons in the job; there are usually no restrictions prohibiting the employer from paying higher rates.

UNION RECOGNITION. Employer acceptance of a union as the representative of his employees, the first step in the establishment of a collective bargaining relationship.


UNION SECURITY. Protection of a union’s status by a provision in the collective bargaining agreement establishing a closed shop, union shop, agency shop, or maintenance of membership arrangement. In the absence of such provisions, employees in the bargaining union are free to join or support the union at will, and, thus, in union reasoning, are susceptible to pressures to refrain or to the inducement of a “free ride”.

UNION SHOP. Provision in a collective bargaining agreement that requires all employees to become members of the union within a specified time after hiring (typically 30 days), or after a new provision is negotiated, and to remain members of the union as a condition of continued employment.        Modified union shop. Variation of the union shop. Certain employees may be exempted, e.g., those already employed at the time the provision was negotiated who had, up until then, not joined the union.


UNIT OF PRODUCTION. A measured quantity of output. May be based on variables such as physical count, weight, or accumulated standard time.

UNLICENSED PERSONNEL. Seamen not required to have an official license, such as deckhands, stewards, firemen, etc. as distinguished from licensed masters, mates, and engineers.

UNPAID HOLIDAYS. Holidays observed by an establishment only to the extent of providing premium pay for work on that day. Paid time off not provided. (See PAID HOLIDAYS.)

UNRESTRICTED JOB. A job in which the output of production is limited only by the ability of the worker to produce.

UPGRADING. The process of advancing of workers to jobs having greater skill and/or experience requirements and commanding higher rates of pay. Workers may be upgraded without the necessary skill and/or experience when workers are not available to fill such jobs. Under those conditions the worker learns the new job on the basis of on- the-job training. May also result from re-evaluation of that job.

URBAN WAGE RATE INDEX. Series maintained by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, beginning in 1943, to measure the movement of wage rates in urban areas in manufacturing industry groups, and selected nonmanufacturing industries.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR. The department was established by an Act of Congress in 1913 to “foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners of the United States, to improve their working conditions, and to advance their opportunities for profitable employment.” The Department also has important functions in the field of international labor affairs. The major bureaus and offices of the Department include: Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training, Bureau of Employment Security, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Labor Standards, Wage and Hour and Public Contracts Divisions, Women’s Bureau, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, Office of Manpower, Automation and Training, Office of the Solicitor, Neighborhood Youth Corps, Labor-Management Services Administration, and Manpower Administration. The Secretary of Labor heads the Department.

UTILITYMAN (UTILITY OPERATOR OR WORKER). A worker who can perform a variety of jobs and is used to do such work on an “as needed” basis, e.g., an operator who relieves on an assembly line.

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