How do you unionize a workplace?

The first step is to determine whether you want to form your own, independent union or to affiliate with an established national union. Second step, if it is the latter, contact a union that you and your coworkers are interested in having unionize your workplace. Look in the yellow pages of the your telephone directory under Labor Organizations for union listings.

Next step is to determine if there is a general level of interest in having a union represent your group of workers. If more than 30% of the employees sign "authorization cards", a union will ask the local National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold a secret ballot election. A period of time is allowed for discussion of the merits of having a union before the election is held. If the union wins the election, employees who have a "community of interest" (similar working conditions, jobs, hours and supervision) form a bargaining unit to have the union represent them.

Once a union is established, the union representative(s) and the employer bargain in good faith to enter into an agreement regarding the wages, hours, insurance benefits, pension benefits, vacations, seniority rights, job performance, work rules, promotion procedures, layoffs, transfers, and other terms and conditions of employment. The contract resulting from this negotiation is called the collective bargaining agreement. Should the employer violate the collective bargaining agreement, there is a grievance procedure that the union can use to obtain a remedy.





(Reviewed 9-08)