Steps to Starting a Union at Work

Although every workplace is different and the needs of workers vary, there are some basic steps involved in winning a union voice on the job. Here’s how it happens:

Ready to organize a union?

To begin organizing a union at your workplace there’s a simple starting point before going through the steps listed below: quietly talk to a few of your co-workers who you think may be interested in organizing. 

Privately talk it over with your co-workers ...

This small group starts to privately discuss workplace issues, what is involved in organizing a union, and making plans to contact UFCW. This group can also start passing out digital union cards to get support from their coworkers: bit.ly/1Rrklrm 

STEP 1: BUILD AN ORGANIZING COMMITTEE

Build an Organizing Committee ...

Leaders are identified and an organizing committee representing all major departments and all shifts and reflecting the racial, ethnic and gender diversity in the workforce is established. Organizing committee training begins immediately. Committee members must be prepared to work hard to educate themselves and their co-workers about the union and to warn and educate co-workers about the impending management anti-union campaign.

Also at this step basic information about the workplace must be gathered including:

  • workplace structure: departments, work areas, jobs, shifts
  • employee information: name, address, phone, shift, job title, and department for each worker (employee list)
  • employer information: other locations, parent company, product(s), customers, union history

STEP 2: UNION DEMANDS

Identify the issues in your workplace ...

The committee develops a program of union demands (the improvements you are are organizing to achieve) and a strategy for the union election campaign. A plan for highlighting these issues in the workplace is carried out through various organizing campaign activities.

STEP 3: SIGN-UP MAJORITY ON UNION CARDS

Sign people up ...

Your co-workers are asked to support the union by signing union cards. The goal is to sign-up at least 30%, but a majority will be needed to win the union election. This “card campaign” should proceed quickly once begun and is necessary to hold a union election.

STEP 4: WIN THE UNION ELECTION

Win the union election ...

The signed cards are used (and required) to petition the National labor relations board to hold an election. If the union wins, the employer must recognize and bargain with the union. Winning a union election not only requires a strong, diverse organizing committee and solid issues, but there must also be a plan to fight the employer’s anti-union campaign.

STEP 5: NEGOTIATE A CONTRACT

Negotiate a first contract ...

The organizing campaign does not let up after an election victory. The real goal of the campaign, a union contract (the document the union and the employer negotiate and sign, covering everything from wages to how disputes will be handled), is still to be achieved. Workers must be mobilized to support the union’s contract demands (decided by you and your co-workers) and pressure the employer to meet them.

ORGANIZED! MAKE IT YOUR UNION!

Organized!

 

 

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