Also, you don't have to join a union to fight for better conditions; search "protected concerted activity" on nlrb.gov.
I suggest you learn your rights, stand firm and listen with an open yet privately skeptical ear to each side.
Q: I got a job at a unionized company and worked with the most unreasonable and combative person I'd ever met. Her nastiness was a large part of why I left a few months later, and I told the manager so. He said she had union protection and nothing could be done. Did I have any recourse?
A: It's not that union workers have immunity, but a company looking to fire them has to go through the union, "follow a progressive disciplinary policy and document . . . the offending employee's conduct," Leonard says. Your boss evidently didn't consider workplace harmony worth the effort needed to ditch Ms. Nastybritches. For what it's worth, I hear plenty about indestructible non-union jerks, too.
Karla L. Miller writes an advice column on navigating the modern workplace. Each week she will answer one or two questions from readers. Miller has written for and edited tax publications for 16 years, most recently for the accounting firm KPMG's Washington National Tax office. You can find her on Twitter,@KarlaAtWork