If you and your co-workers are interested in forming a union, The NewsGuild-CWA will assist you in building majority support.
Here’s a brief summary of where to start:
Talk with an organizer. Have a confidential conversation with a NewsGuild-CWA union organizer. The organizer will answer your questions and work with you to develop a strategy to organize your co-workers, build power on the job, and win!
Talk with your co-workers. Do many of you share the same concerns? Identify the most important issues. Are there common themes, such as lack of respect; little or no opportunity for input with management; unfair, arbitrary treatment or favoritism? Are wages and benefits lower at your workplace than at similar workplaces? Make a list.
When talking among yourselves about a union, be sure to talk only while you are on breaks, away from work areas, or off company property. Organizing a union is legal – it is protected under federal law – but you need to avoid tipping off management for as long as possible. If your employer finds out about your plans, especially when you are in the early stages, your road to success will be much more difficult.
Build a committee. After determining that there is support for a union, form a committee of workers that is representative of your workplace. Building a strong organizing committee is critical to winning the majority support that you will need to establish your union.
- Ideally, the number of workers on your committee should be at least 10 percent of the workforce. During this stage, The NewsGuild will give you tips on building a strong committee.
Build majority support. After forming your committee and identifying key issues, you will need to talk openly with your co-workers, discuss issues, and build support. This begins the public phase of your campaign. Through one-on-one discussions, evaluate the level of support for a union around the key issues your committee identified. Even though this is the public part of your campaign, remember to restrict your conversations about a union to break times in non-work locations (lunchrooms, bathrooms) or away from company property.
- An excellent way to build support for your union is to get workers to sign a petition expressing support for the union and stating your key issues and goals. But hold off on going public with your petition until you have a majority of workers’ signatures.
Many employers will launch a campaign against your union at this stage. When they learn of your campaign, they will try to increase fear and conflict in the workplace (see examples below) and blame it on the “union,” as if the union is some outside organization. Remember, you are the union.
How you decide. How you and your co-workers decide whether you want a union depends on where you work.
- At most private employers, workers make the choice through elections overseen by the National Labor Relations Board. If a majority of the workers voting in the election vote in favor, you will get your union.
- At some employers, workers make the choice through a process called majority sign-up. This is a much quicker way to get a union because the procedure is agreed to in advance between NewsGuild-CWA and the employer. And these employers agree to remain neutral.
The employer’s campaign. Employers often use a variety of tactics to prevent you from forming a union. Many are designed to create conflict, divide union supporters, and create an atmosphere of fear. Here are some of the most widely used tactics – some of them illegal:
- Predicting layoffs or office closings if you vote for union representation;
- Scaring employees with warnings of strikes or violence;
- Intimidating union supporters with unspoken threats of firings and/or disciplinary action;
- Labeling the union that you and your co-workers are attempting to build as an outside organization or a third party that will come in and make decisions for you and your co-workers.
- Making inaccurate and misleading statements about the union or union dues, and
- Asking for another chance to improve working conditions.
What employers rarely want to talk about during their anti-union campaign are your concerns – those key workplace issues that you and your organizing committee identified as reasons why you want a union.
Strong majority support for a union is the best way to withstand the employer’s campaign.
If you and your co-workers are interested in forming a union, The NewsGuild-CWA will assist you.
Please complete the form below. A NewsGuild-CWA organizer or representative in your area will contact you. He or she will set up a confidential meeting with you and some of your co-workers to discuss the possibility of a union in your workplace. You can also call us at 202-434-7177.
Photo: Members of the Indianapolis NewsGuild Local 34070 say on World Press Freedom Day, May 3, 2019.