Unionize Your Workplace

You’ve taken the crucial first step! By deciding to unionize, you and your coworkers acknowledge your worth and the power of solidarity, ready to demand more. Forming a union empowers you to fight for better pay, safer conditions, retirement security, and against retaliation, discrimination, and harassment. In short, unionizing gives you a real voice at work.

Workers in a union benefit from:

A voice at work

Unionized employees can actively participate in shaping their working conditions and negotiating for better terms.

Enforceable contract

Union members benefit from a legally enforceable contract that secures their wages, benefits, and workplace conditions.

Accountability

Union workers have access to established procedures and resources for challenging unfair treatment and ensuring fair practices.

Collective Power

Unions empower workers by uniting their voices, creating a balanced and fair dialogue with management.

The Union Advantage

Pay Equity

Unions combat discrimination

Better Benefits

Union jobs help build better lives

Higher Wages

It pays off to be in a union

The Impact of unions and weekly earnings

Earnings mainly consist of wages and salaries from employment. The differences in earnings between union members and nonunion employees are influenced by several factors, including collective bargaining agreements, as well as variations in occupation, industry, age, firm size, and geographical distribution.

How to join a union

The key point to understand is that forming a union is a right protected by the National Labor Relations Act and further guaranteed by federal and state laws. Eligible employees have the right to express their views on unions, discuss their interest in forming a union with coworkers, wear union buttons, attend union meetings, and exercise their constitutional rights to freedom of speech and association in many other ways.

 

Despite these protections, many employers strongly resist their employees’ efforts to unionize. Therefore, before discussing unionization at your workplace, it is essential to contact a union that can assist you in organizing. The policy of the United States, as declared in the National Labor Relations Act, is to encourage collective bargaining and protect workers’ full freedom of association, self-organization, and the designation of representatives for negotiating employment terms and conditions or other mutual aid and protection.

 

*Please note that supervisors and management are typically excluded from union membership. For more information, refer to specific laws covering your position or contact a union organizer as described above.

To form a union at your workplace, you need support and hands-on assistance from the union you wish to join. If you are unsure which union can best assist you, learn more about the unions affiliated with the AFL-CIO by visiting their websites.

Union organizers assist employees in forming unions at their workplaces to provide the same opportunities for dignity and respect, good wages, and decent working conditions that union members already enjoy. To connect with a union organizer, visit unionizecalifornia.org.

 

Once you’ve formed a union, you will elect your workplace leaders who will negotiate your new contract, incorporating the improvements you want to see. This contract will detail wages, benefits, and working conditions — and most importantly, you will be actively involved in making it happen.

resources on forming a union

Forming a union at sonic speed

Watch as Sonic explains how to form a union at Sonic speed!

How to form a union: step by step

More Perfect Union created this video as a simplified guide to the basics of the process.

Unionize California

Get in contact with a union organizer who can support you and your coworkers form a union.

Frequently Asked Questions

To initiate the formation of a union in your workplace, securing support and guidance directly from the union you aim to join is essential. If you’re uncertain about which union aligns best with your needs, consider exploring the union affiliated with the AFL-CIO by accessing their websites for more information.

Becoming a member of a union is generally a straightforward process for many workers—sign a card and pay dues. However, the real challenge lies in establishing a union within your workplace, particularly for the purpose of collective bargaining with your employer. This endeavor parallels the complexities of launching a nonprofit organization or small business.

Union members work together to negotiate and maintain a contract with management, guaranteeing crucial benefits like equitable salary raises, accessible healthcare, job security, and predictable schedules. This fosters enhanced workplaces and labor conditions, safeguarding against fears of reprisal.

Historically, many unions required prospective applicants to either possess a personal connection with an existing member or actively pursue one. This established member would then facilitate the introduction of the potential applicant to fellow union members, stewards, and other officials.

 
 

The NLRA (National Labor Relations Act) unequivocally prohibits employers from terminating, demoting, or penalizing employees for participating in union activities. This safeguard is fundamental to the Act, ensuring that employees can exercise their right to organize freely without fear of retaliation.

 

Explore the NLRB’s interactive section on laws protecting employee rights.

 

For further assistance, reach out to the NLRB Public Affairs Office at 202-273-1991 or one of their 26 regional offices.

 

Under federal law, both unions and employers have the option to create “union-security” agreements. These agreements require all employees within a bargaining unit to become union members and begin paying union dues and fees within 30 days of their hiring. For more details, visit nlrb.gov.

 

Managers and supervisors are excluded from the protections of the NLRA (National Labor Relations Act) and cannot join unions or engage in bargaining unit activities. They are considered part of the company’s management rather than its labor force.

 

If you’re under a union contract, it’s probable that you’re protected from being terminated without valid cause. If you are dismissed and you feel there isn’t sufficient reason for your termination, you should request the union to file a “grievance” on your behalf against the employer.