ORGANIZE YOUR WORK PLACE
Organize your workplace!!!
It's Your right
Federal Law gives all workers a legal right to organize a Union. It is illegal for you employer to threaten you or discriminate against you because you support a Union. It is illegal for your employer to threaten to close down the business because workers organize a Union.
A Union is working people getting together to defend each other, and to work in unity to make improvements on the job. In the IBEW , the members make the decisions about the issues that affect us. That's democracy. That's what a Union is all about.
There is not a single US Citizen who has not benefited from the struggles, sacrifices and victories of the US labor movement. Things we take for granted--child labor laws, unemployment insurance, the 8-hour day, the minimum wage, health and safety regulations--are a direct result of the strikes, sit-downs, slow-downs, and actions of organized workers. Unfortunately, most of this history has been effectively purged from our collective memory. The US political establishment portrays unions as out of date and somehow "no longer necessary."
So you want to unionize?
Way to go!
Bringing in a union gives you a real chance at improving your work life. Average wages and benefits run higher for workers with union contracts, and a contract makes your job more secure: you can no longer be fired "at will". The contract's rules apply to everyone equally, so they can help make the workplace fairer. A union gives you something you never get otherwise: a chance for you and your co-workers to sit down across the table from your boss and have your say on issues that affect your life in a big way But getting from here to union takes some doing. Each organizing drive is different, but you always need to take some basic steps.
See if anyone cares First you need to quietly feel out your co-workers' level of interest. Are people distressed, disgusted, pissed off, ready to make changes? No need to make lots of noise at this stage-in fact, the longer you can work on the drive without your employer knowing, the better. It gives him less time to prepare.
See if anyone cares enough to do something You'll need to pull together an organizing committee. Members of the committee spend time talking to co-workers, on and off the job. They circulate union cards and help put flyers together, meet frequently with union staff and each other. No drive can succeed without a solid core of people willing to put in some serious hours.
Put together as much information as you can.
Learn about your co-workers.
- Get information on all the locations and shifts people work (if applicable)
- Put together as complete a phone list as you can
- Find out whether many workers belong to specific ethnic and/or cultural groups. Will you need to think about finding people who can "talk union" in different languages and translate written materials?
Learn about the company.
- Where else does it operate?
- Who are its main customers?
- Do its owners or managers have community or political connections?
- If you work in a warehouse, where do goods come from? Where are they shipped to?
Identify issues to talk to co-workers about What do people most want to change at work? What are concrete issues you can address in a first union contract? The organizer can help you sort this out. You need to move people so they'll support the drive and get involved, but you don't want to make promises you can't keep. That will cause problems later.
Talk to your co-workers and get union cards signed A "union authorization card" says you'd like the union to help you get a contract. Signing doesn't bind you to anything and the card stays confidential. Your boss can't see it.
Cards are the basic measure of interest in a union. If you can't get well over half of your co-workers to sign cards, you have little chance of getting the union in.
Talk with the organizer about your rights during a union drive, and prepare to defend them. The Federal National Labor Relations Act sets out the rules for employer and union behavior. The NLRA protects organizing activity. For example, it says management can't discriminate against workers for union support. But the act also sets some limits, such as restrictions on when you can discuss the drive. You're free to talk union during breaks or before or after work, but not during work time. Management frequently flouts these rules in an attempt to intimidate people and discourage organizing. Keep careful notes of any violations of your rights, and tell the organizer right away. These violations, called "unfair labor practices," can play an important role in your drive You can respond through the legal system by filing charges with the National Labor Relations Board, the body that enforces NLRA. And you can respond with direct action, letting your boss know you're serious about organizing and he can't mess with you.
Learn about common anti-union ploys by employers. Almost all employers mount anti-union campaigns. They seem to work from the same playbook, hire the same consultants, tell the same lies and play the same tricks. Looking at other campaigns can give you a good idea of what to expect in yours.Use the information you gathered about the company to broaden your base of support. Opportunities for doing this will vary greatly from company to company. In general, you want to let your boss know he's being watched, and any dirty tricks he plays will be noted by his customers, his associates in the community and his political allies. Sometimes you can exert real pressure. Media attention, when you can get it, can also be useful.Keep talking to your co-workers and getting cards signed until you have cards from well over half the people. Then you're ready to turn interest and support into real union representation. You can do this in two ways: you can ask the employer to recognize the union, or go through an election supervised by the National Labor Relations Board
Voluntary recognition. Voluntary recognition is faster, easier and fairer. It spares you the aggravation of an anti-union campaign. You just go to the employer (with your union rep) and say, "We have majority support and want you to recognize the union." Even if the employer agrees, your claim must be verified for the union to be legal. Usually this is done by a "third-party card check". A person agreed on by the union and the employer counts the cards and determines that the union has a majority If so, it wins recognition. NLRB Election Most often employers won't go for recognition, and insist on an NLRB-supervised election. This gives them a chance to mount their anti-union blitz and tie up the election in legal red tape. If you go to an election, you and the employer will first have to agree on who will be represented. The NLRB has "unit determination hearings" to figure this out. Once you agree on the unit, you set a date for the election, usually about five weeks later. You can expect a dramatic increase in anti-union nonsense from the employer during the period leading up to the election. During this period it's especially important to keep up direct communications with your co-workers. You may also want to ask the union's help in putting out a newsletter to hand out and mail to people so you can keep your points firmly in front of them. You may need to respond to employer misinformation, but mainly you want to keep people focused on your organizing issues-why you need a union. Be sure everyone knows how the election will work, understands that it's a secret ballot and knows where and when they can vote. If necessary, plan "get out the vote' for election day. Be especially sure that anyone who's a sure yes" vote can get to the polling place.
When you win the election, enjoy your accomplishment and stay mobilized! Winning a contract takes as much organization as getting recognition.