Understanding the Difference Between a Union Local and a Unit


Overview: Union Local and Unit Defined

Within the framework of labor unions, it is important to understand the distinction between a union local and a unit. Let’s explore the definitions of these terms and delve into their roles in the labor movement.

Union Local: A Hub of Union Activity

A union local refers to a branch or chapter of a labor union that represents workers within a specific geographic area or industry. It serves as a localized center for union activities, providing support, coordination, and representation for its members. A union local often has its own elected officers and executive board responsible for managing the affairs of the local union.

union local

Unit: A Defined Group of Workers

On the other hand, a unit, also known as a bargaining unit, refers to a specific group of workers within a workplace or industry represented by a labor union. This group is determined based on job classification, skill level, or other shared characteristics. The union collectively represents the unit in negotiations with the employer for collective bargaining.

Differences Between Union Local and Unit

While both union local and a unit plays significant roles in the labor movement, there are distinct differences between them:

1. Scope and Coverage

A union local covers a defined geographic area or industry sector, representing workers within that designated territory. In contrast, a unit represents a specific group of workers within a workplace or industry, regardless of their geographic location.

union local and a unit

2. Organizational Structure

A union local has its own set of elected officers and an executive board responsible for governing and managing the affairs of the local union. In contrast, a unit does not have its own separate governing structure but rather falls under the broader governance of the union local or the parent labor organization.

3. Representation and Bargaining

A union local provides representation and support to all of its members within the designated area or industry. It engages in collective bargaining with employers on behalf of the units and individuals it represents. Units, however, focus on the specific interests and concerns of the workers within their defined group and participate in collective bargaining as part of the broader union local.

4. Membership and Affiliation

Members of a union local are typically associated with a specific geographic area or industry sector. They join the local union and actively participate in the activities and decision-making processes of that specific branch. Units, on the other hand, consist of workers who share common employment characteristics and are affiliated with the broader labor union or local.

union local and a unit

The Interplay of Union Locals and Units

In conclusion, understanding the difference between a union local and a unit is crucial for comprehending the dynamics of the labor movement. While a union local serves as a localized hub for union activities, a unit represents a specific group of workers within a workplace or industry. Together, they form the foundation for collective bargaining, representation, and the pursuit of workers’ rights and interests within the broader labor union framework. The interplay between union local and a unit strengthens workers’ collective voice and power, contributing to the advancement of labor rights and improved working conditions for all.


Q: What is a local union?

A: A local union is a branch or chapter of a larger national or international union that represents and organizes workers at a local level within a specific geographic area or industry.

Q: What is a national union?

A: A national union is an organization that represents workers across the entire country and sets policies and guidelines for the local unions within its structure.

Q: What is union structure?

A: Union structure refers to the organizational framework of a union, including its hierarchy, membership, and decision-making processes at the local, national, and international levels.

Q: What is a union member?

A: A union member is an employee who has joined a union and pays dues to support the union’s activities and representation of workers in negotiations with employers.

Q: What is a union contract?

A: A union contract, also known as a collective bargaining agreement, is a legally binding document that outlines the terms and conditions of employment negotiated between a union and an employer on behalf of the workers.

Q: What are union dues?

A: Union dues are regular payments made by union members to support the union’s activities, including representation, collective bargaining, and other services provided to members.

Q: What is a collective bargaining agreement?

A: A collective bargaining agreement is a legally enforceable contract between a union and an employer that governs the terms and conditions of employment for the workers represented by the union.

Q: What are labor relations?

A: Labor relations refer to the interactions and negotiations between unions, workers, and employers to address workplace issues, conditions, and the terms of employment.

Q: What is the “right to work”?

A: “Right to work” refers to state laws that allow employees to work in unionized workplaces without being required to join the union or pay union dues as a condition of employment.