How Do You Form a Labor Union?

If you work for a business where you feel you do not receive sufficient income or benefits for the work you put in, you may be able to benefit from starting a labor union. However, many people are afraid of even trying to start a union and have no idea where to begin. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take to begin the process of forming a labor union at your place of employment:

  1. Talk to your co-workers
    • The first step in organizing a labor union is gauging how popular the idea of unionization is among your co-workers. This can be difficult, considering that many people are vehemently anti-union and most employers will try to shut down talk of unionization as soon as they hear of it. Thus, you should start by asking co-workers about whether they are satisfied with their current working conditions or benefits, including the hours they work, the amount they are paid, the amount of sick and vacation days they have, and so on. The more dissatisfaction you find among your co-workers, the more likely it is that they may be open to forming a labor union.
  2. Create an organizing committee
    • If you have determined that your co-workers may be open to unionization, you need to form an organizing committee, either by creating it yourself or by getting the assistance of another existing labor union. Ideally, this organizing committee should be representative of every department in your workplace, with at least one person from every department, if possible. This organizing committee will then begin the process of trying to convince people to support unionization, including educating others on the potential benefits of a labor union and convincing them to vote for the union.
  3. Get people to sign authorization cards
    • With your organizing committee in place, your next step is to demonstrate that your workplace is interested in unionization, which is required before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will authorize an election. To do that, you need to convince people at your workplace to sign “authorization cards,” which are cards that people sign declaring their desire to support a labor union. You cannot hold an election to form a union until you have these authorization cards from at least 30% of all the employees at your workplace.
  4. Hold an election
    • Once you have collected enough authorization cards, you can petition the NLRB to be allowed to hold an election to form a union. This election is closed ballot and is conducted under the supervision of the NLRB, who will examine the process to ensure there is no wrongdoing on either side. Like most elections, the goal is to get a simple majority of the vote, which will allow you to legally form a union and begin the process of negotiating a union contract. However, if you fail to get a majority, the election will fail, and you will need to begin the process all over again.
  5. Negotiate a union contract
    • With a (hopefully) successful election behind you, you can now begin the process of negotiating a union contract. This contract will bind your employer and becomes how you can ensure higher wages, better benefits, and protect against abuses. If you have not already done so, you should contact an attorney with knowledge of labor law who can help you negotiate your contract and protect you from retaliation or abuse by your employer.

If you are interested in exploring unionization, however, you should speak to an attorney with experience in labor law issues. If you are looking into unionizing, or you already have a union and are in a dispute with your employer, give the Law Offices of Steven Sack a call. Steven Mitchell Sack, the Employee’s Lawyer, is a New York employment lawyer who has considerable experience in handling the many aspects of labor and employment law. To schedule a consultation with New York City employment lawyer Steven Mitchell Sack, call (917) 371-8000.

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