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Steps to Organizing a Union in Your Workplace

Talk and Listen. Talk to your co-workers. Listen. Do many of you share the same concerns? Are there common workplace issues that unite all of you? Favoritism? Wage inconsistencies? Safety concerns?

Shhh. Don’t tell the Boss, yet. Work quietly and talk only while on breaks, away from work areas, or off company property.  Organizing a union is legal and a protected right under the law, but avoid tipping off management or even cynical co-workers. The element of surprise is what gives you the upper hand when you have the majority of support against management. Try and preserve that leverage for as long as possible.

Committee. Once you have the support of your co-workers building a committee that is representative of your workplace is critical to establishing your union. Who are the leaders? Identify respected co-workers on each shift, in each department and representing the demographics that are unique to your workplace. A committee will serve to educate, collect information, communicate and provide leadership during the campaign.

Unite.  Engage your co-workers openly in one-on-one discussions during off work hours and evaluate the support that exists for a union around your key issues. Build a majority. You and your co-workers will show your support by signing union authorization cards. These cards are seen only by the union and are used to gauge majority support in filing a petition for a secret-ballot representation election at your workplace. Be aware that your campaign becomes public at this point. Your public show of unity will build momentum to carry you through a successful election.

Be prepared.  This is where the employer’s campaign comes in. Most employers will launch their campaigns against your union during the “public” stage, if they are not tipped off earlier. When they learn of your campaign, they try to increase fear and blame it on the “union” as if it is some outside organization. Remember, YOU are the union.

The employer’s campaign. In most cases, employers will use a variety of tactics to prevent you from organizing a union, many designed to create conflict, divide union supporters, and create an atmosphere of fear. Here are just some of the most widely used (and many illegal) tactics:

  • Predicting layoffs or plant/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 organize as an “outside” organization or “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;
  • Asking for another chance to improve working conditions:

What employers don’t 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 defense to successfully withstanding the employer’s campaign.

File. With a majority of support, at most private employers, workers make the choice through elections overseen by the National Labor Relations Board. Your get your union if a majority of the workers voting in the election vote for the union.

Contract. Your organizing efforts don’t stop once you WIN. The next step is to come together in support of your contract negotiation process. A strong, united union workplace is crucial to winning an effective first contract. You will build on the momentum of your campaign and identify a representative committee to collaborate with your union representatives in bargaining a contract that addresses the issues most important to you.

You’re not alone. A PPMWS organizer will be with you every step of the way for guidance and support. The first step is to reach out and an organizer will be happy to assist to in the process.

Are you ready to get started? Click here to contact the PPMWS today!

Nov 26, 2012
Nov 14, 2012
Norm Stachulski, Organizer, Detroit Typographical Union, Detroit stormnachulski@gmail. Cell. 313-408-3313

Page Last Updated: Feb 01, 2016 (08:32:00)
PPMWS represents over 8,000 workers in a diverse range of occupations in daily newspapers, commercial printing and mailing operations, graphic design, specialty manufacturing, publishing and distribution as well as the U. S. Government Printing Office. Our union combines the proud heritage of the International Typographical Union-the oldest continuously operating union in America-with the dynamic vision of the Communications Workers of America. The combination of these two influences provides our members and their families with responsive representation and progressive programs.

Communications Workers of America


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219 Fort Pitt Blvd., 3rd Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
412-281-7268 PPMWS Main Phone Number
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Dan Wasser, President
412-281-7845 Office of the President
Marcia Mikesell, Administrative Secretary
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