I just recently joined the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers (WashTech). They are a part of the Communication Workers of America (CWA), which itself is a part of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).
I had been toying around with the idea of joining a union for a long time. I knew there were a lot of things happening in the technology world that only organized labor could properly deal with. For example, outsourcing our jobs to countries where labor is cheaper and the stagnant wages we've seen since the tech bubble burst of 2001. However, it just didn't seem like there was any option for me as a high tech worker. I was actually quite envious of my blue collar brethren.
Then I discovered WashTech. I thought it was awesome that Microsoft workers formed this union, but I just didn't see how that would directly benefit me, living in North Carolina, other than the national advocacy and lobbying they do.
Well, I finally bit the bullet and decided to try it on for a year. So I plopped down my union dues and today received my membership packet. The benefits I'm receiving are much more than I expected. Since WashTech is a part of CWA, which is a part of the AFL-CIO, I receive every benefit that every other AFL-CIO member receives. This includes discounts on tons of stores and items through their "Union Plus" discount program. I also receive free life insurance. Not a huge amount, but it's free just for being a member.
They may not be able to help me negotiate contracts or directly local high tech communicate workers' needs to businesses in my area, but the fringe benefits plus the national advocacy is a fantastic start!
It feels good to know I'm now a member of an organization whose mission is to protect my job. And the discounts I'm receiving I feel will nearly pay for the union dues. I'm a pretty proud union member right now.
If you are an American tech worker, I highly recommend joining. It doesn't matter if you don't live in the northwest, you'll enjoy some great benefits and also know that somebody is watching your back in this crappy economy.
The more tech workers that join, the more powerful the union will become, and the more our voices will be heard.