Intermediate Organizational Units: Definition & Structure

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  • 0:00 Organizational Units
  • 0:56 District Offices &…
  • 2:44 Independent Unions
  • 3:20 Conference Boards &…
  • 4:38 Employee Associations
  • 5:16 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Beth Loy

Dr. Loy has a Ph.D. in Resource Economics; master's degrees in economics, human resources, and safety; and has taught masters and doctorate level courses in statistics, research methods, economics, and management.

In this lesson, we analyze intermediate organizational units, which are formed when groups of employees come together on an intermediate level. We look at examples of these units, such as joint councils, district offices, and employee associations.

Organizational Units

Oliver is a member of a local union and its district office. Oliver also installs electrical wiring for trade conferences. These conferences are run by union workers, so he works at a variety of locations. Oliver was also selected as a delegate to sit on a conference board. What in the world is Oliver doing? Well, Oliver is a member of a union who works for intermediate organizational units.

An intermediate organizational unit is a group of workers with similar interests who are members of an organization that isn't local or national. For those that are unionized, an intermediate union is involved. These bring local unions together into a district office or joint council. An intermediate organizational unit could also be nonunionized. Let's look at intermediate organizational units and their counterparts.

District Offices

A district office, sometimes referred to as a district council, is the combination of several local unions who have merged to increase their bargaining strength. If local unions are small, the benefit of merging is that by joining a district office will they will be able to increase their budgets and resources, which will enable union representatives to bargain better contracts. Oliver is a member of a local union, a district office, and a national union.

Teamsters District Council 2 is a good example of going from small and weak to large and strong. It was formed from over one hundred plants with small unions in California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nebraska, Utah, Colorado, and Nevada. The council now has over 7,500 members who work in the printing and packaging industry. In recent years, it has achieved several court and organizing victories because of its bargaining power.

Joint Councils

A joint council is a parent organization to three or more local unions. Membership includes a variety of industries, employers, and occupations. Joint councils are run by officers and exist to solve disputes, set regional union policy, lobby government, and determine national priorities. Sometimes joint councils even mediate among local unions who disagree.

Joint councils are common in the Teamsters. Let's look at Teamsters Joint Council 75 as an example. It covers Florida, Georgia, and part of Alabama. Its membership includes Disney World and UPS as well as local unions from the health care, fire department, and motion picture industries. Joint Council 75 provides legal assistance, scholarships, and disaster relief.

Independent Unions

Oliver has never been a member of an independent union. This type of union is very different than one that is associated with a joint council or has merged into a district office. An independent union is a trade union that is not controlled by any other local, regional, national, or international union.

An independent union also isn't controlled by management. If the independent union is national, it would not be associated with the American Federation of Labor or Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), which is a voluntary federation that includes most national and international unions.

Conference Boards

Oliver is a member of a conference board. A conference board is composed of local union members who are selected as delegates to represent the membership. A board will have different members depending on the situation.

Oliver served on a conference board when it was convened to review a tentative contract agreement. When the board votes in favor of a tentative agreement, the agreement goes to all union members for a vote with a recommendation from the board. Boards are usually composed of members elected by local members.

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