I think a union of trainers would help trainers who work for large fitness chains. I have seen gyms slash wages by 50% or more for trainers while keeping management salaries untouched. I have also seen gyms fight against unions. I believe it would benefit the maintenance staff at these same facilities who often deal with abuse. What do you think about a trainer/fitness union?
I know that about 85% of all law enforcement officers are union. Usually union is something that you most often see with government jobs, like Joanne said. This is because government employees tend to have more rights in the workplace than do private employees.
The interesting thing about unions is that the employer is under absolutely no obligation to negotiate with your union rep. Furthermore, it offers no legal counsel benefits. Back in the ’70s, it used to be that if there was an investigation at work, you were entitled to have union legal counsel for the course of the investigation, where non-union employees were not. That was done away with because it just wasn’t fair to everyone.
The purpose of a union, as we know, is to put pressure on the employer to maintain or change policies or conditions that affect the workers. The union only works if the “force is strong.” So if you’re the only one at the gym that’s union, chances are that you’ll get fired before you get what you’re looking for. This is the nature of private facilities. As I’ve mentioned before, private facilities have a GREAT DEAL of control over who they hire.
The better alternative here would be to clearly read your contract before signing it. Most people don’t know that you have an obligation to understand every aspect of your contract. Don’t let “having a job” blind you to the realities of that job. Under some circumstances, you may even be able to negotiate some of the terms in your contract. One thing that people should keep in mind when applying for ANY job is whether or not you’re allowed legal representation in the event of an investigation. Read my comment on “Respondeat Superior” in the questions section here, it addresses some of the same issues.
Also, remember that your employer cannot do anything to you or request anything from you that is not spelled out in your contract! A lot of times, contracts will leave a lot of room for interpretation. This is intentional. I would submit to you that it’s not uncommon for employers to cut pay and place other restrictions on your employment, simply because they KNOW that you probably won’t go back to your contract, and even if you do you’re afraid of not having a job, so you just roll with it. Understanding your contract is THE MOST IMPORTANT aspect of any job, but especially for jobs in the private sector.
I think that a lot of problems like the ones you stated in the description for the question could be resolved simply by going back to the contract and addressing it with the employer. However, you run the risk of being let go if you aren’t willing to comply with the demands of your employer if you’re privately employed, which is most often the case with anyone in the fitness industry. If it’s not in your contract that your employer can decrease your pay without cause or notice, and you protest it, then get fired, you might have a case for wrongful termination. In this instance, you’d probably lose because the burden of proof is on you to prove that the employer fired you BECAUSE you wouldn’t comply with your unlawful pay decrease. In civil court, which is where this would play out, the standard of proof is preponderance of the evidence, meaning that you have to provide the jury with 51% certainty that you were fired unlawfully. This isn’t like criminal court (beyond a reasonable doubt). That’s why O.J. “did it” in civil court and he “didn’t do it” in criminal court. The evidence was overwhelmingly against him, but in the eyes of the jury there was room for reasonable doubt, so he was liable in civil court but not guilty in criminal court.
You don’t really have the option of going on strike if you’re privately employed, because then you CAN and most likely WILL be fired. Think about the needs of the clientele. It’s more important for a fitness facility to get someone who will do the job than it is to negotiate with you over that job, that’s how they keep the money coming in.
There are a lot of circumstances that could quickly complicate this issue. Just because something “ain’t right” doesn’t mean it’s not legal.
This turned into another very generic and unrealistic legal example, but the topic is still the same. Unions act in the best interests of the employee. However, in the private sector, it’s just too easy to fire you and hire someone else. If everyone got on board and supported one another and really used the union to the full benefit, then in any profession being “union” only has benefits, but you rarely see this happen.
Final opinion… It’s a great idea, in theory. But it’s highly unrealistic to think that union membership would have a positive impact for fitness employees.
Great Question! I’m interested in hearing more opinions on this!