Interested in getting a real voice in your workplace? If you are, then CWA, the Communications Workers of America, can help you and your co-workers build the majority support that you will need to organize your union.
Getting union representation is the best way to gain the working conditions that you and your co-workers deserve. With a union, you have the legal right to bargain over your pay, benefits, employment security, health and safety, and retirement, etc. A union also gives you the ability to negotiate over company policies that affect promotions, job bidding, layoffs, and many other aspects of your job.
Having a union and the right to bargain collectively with your employer is not some old-fashioned idea that’s time has come and gone. Top executives of every major corporation negotiate their own compensation, retirement and severance packages with the companies for which they work.
Through CWA, you and your co-workers will have the same ability to improve your working conditions.
How to Organize a Union Where You Work
Interested in organizing a union in your workplace? A union is simply a majority of employees who join together to better their work lives.
Under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) you have the legal right to form a union in your workplace. The NLRA says:
Section 7: "Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representation of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining . . . ."
Section 8(a): "It shall be an unfair labor practice for an employer . . . to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in section 7. . . ."
To get a union started, the first thing you need to do is talk to your co-workers. Do they share the same concerns you have? Or, do they have other issues? Is there a common theme to these concerns such as lack of respect and dignity; lack of a voice in the workplace; unfair treatment; and/or wages and benefits lower than other people working in the same industry?
Workers Create Their Own Organization
Our experience tells us that it's best when workers organize themselves if they are to create a viable organization in their workplace. CWA organizers and staff can help. But it's the workers who must join together and build their organization. After talking with your co-workers to find out their issues, you can call CWA to talk with a union organizer. He or she will set up a meeting with you and some of your co-workers. Together, you will create a plan for a organizing a union in your workplace.
A Typical Organizing Campaign
The campaign will consist of talking with co-workers about the union, asking them to sign a petition of support. When there is a strong majority of support (65% of employees have signed the petition of support), the union will file for an election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Usually, the NLRB will then meet with the union and the employer to establish the criteria for employees who will be eligible to vote in the union election. The NLRB sets a date for a secret ballot election.
What You Can Do
Under Section 7 of the NLRA, you have the legal right to:
1. Attend meetings to discuss joining a union.
2. Read, distribute, and discuss union literature (as long as you do this in non-work areas during non-work times, such as during breaks or lunch hours).
3. Wear union buttons, t-shirts, stickers, hats, or other items on the job.
4. Sign a card asking your employer to recognize and bargain with the union.
5. Sign petitions or file grievances related to wages, hours, working conditions, and other job issues.
6. Ask other employees to support the union, to sign union cards or petitions, or to file grievances.
Bargaining a Contract
After the union's election victory is officially certified by the NLRB, your employer is legally required to negotiate in "good faith" with the union on a written contract covering wages, hours, and other working conditions.
Some public workers do not have the right to bargain collectively. However, they do have the right to form a union and work together to lobby for better wages and working conditions. Contact CWA to find out the laws in your state.
If you're interested in organizing a union in your workplace, call us at 1-206 441-7800 or e-mail us a message. An organizer will contact you. He or she can set up a meeting with you and some of your co-workers to discuss the possibility of a union in your workplace.