Questions & Answers
About a Union
Can I be fired for talking to others about a union?
Answer: By law you are supposed to discuss union activities only in a
non-public area and only on your break or at lunch. During a union organizing
effort companies can find all kinds of reasons to fire people to intimidate
them. But many times companies will go after the organizers, not the rest of
the employees. But you have a legal right to form a union. If you feel you
have been intimidated or threatened by anyone regarding your interest in
joining a union, take notes of the conversation and report it to someone on
the organizing committee. We can file actions with the NLRB to stop such
action. However, companies also have the right to make their case to
employees. They may show videos and have meetings both individual and group.
During these meetings you must continue to act as a professional and
respectful employee, but you do not have to expose your feelings about the
union. Basically, you can say nothing.
Question: What would we
accomplish by having a union?
Answer: A union would be
your voice. Right now, management gets to call all the shots. With
a union they have a legal obligation to negotiate with representatives that
you choose. You will negotiate based on priorities that you decide for
yourselves. AWPPW represented employees usually have a contract that
provides a positive work environment and a good standard of living.
These things are guaranteed in a contract that cannot be changed except by
mutual agreement. Having a union does not mean that we will
accomplish everything that we want. However, everywhere that AWPPW has
organized there have been improvements.
In today's political and
economic climate, now more than ever workers need to join together. A union
can help create a more level playing field with your employer. Instead of one
person telling management that wages should be fair, health and safety
regulations should be followed and employees deserve good health care
benefits, a union helps you speak together, in one voice. And that chorus of
voices has more power than one lone voice. A union is the vehicle workers can
use to help bring the chorus together.
Question: How would we
Answer: To get a union
started, the first thing you need to do is talk to your co-workers. Do they
share the same concerns you have? Or, do they have other issues? Is there a
common theme to these concerns such as lack of respect and dignity; lack of a
voice in the workplace; unfair treatment; and/or wages and benefits lower than
other people working in the same industry?
Our experience tells us
that it's best when workers organize themselves if they are to create a viable
organization in their workplace. AWPPW organizers and staff can help. But it's
the workers who must join together and build their organization. After talking
with your co-workers to find out their issues, you can contact AWPPW to talk
with a union organizer. He or she will set up a meeting with you and some of
your co-workers. Together, you will create a plan for a organizing a union in
Question: What would a
typical organizing campaign be like?
Answer: The campaign will
consist of talking with co-workers about the union, asking them to sign a
petition of support. When there is a strong majority of support (65% of
employees have signed the petition of support), the union will file for an
election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Usually, the NLRB
will then meet with the union and the employer to establish the criteria for
employees who will be eligible to vote in the union election. The NLRB sets a
date for a secret ballot election.
AWPPWs goal is not
simply to win elections Winning elections assures the union and employees of
their legal right to enter into negotiations with the employer. That's all. AWPPW's
organizing goal is to build a strong organization to better enable employees
to negotiate good contracts and increase their standard of living and quality
Question: Do we have any
legal rights to organize a union?
Answer: Under the
National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) you have the legal right to form a union
in your workplace. The NLRA says:
"Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or
assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representation of
their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the
purpose of collective bargaining . . . ."
Section 8(a): "It
shall be an unfair labor practice for an employer . . . to interfere
with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed
in section 7. . . ."
Under Section 7 of the
NLRA, you have the legal right to:
1. Attend meetings to
discuss joining a union.
2. Read, distribute, and
discuss union literature (as long as you do this in non-work areas during
non-work times, such as during breaks or lunch hours).
3. Wear union buttons,
t-shirts, stickers, hats, or other items on the job.
4. Sign a card asking
your employer to recognize and bargain with the union.
5. Sign petitions or file
grievances related to wages, hours, working conditions, and other job issues.
6. Ask other employees to
support the union, to sign union cards or petitions, or to file grievances.
Question: Who will be
included in the union if we organize?
Answer: The law permits
nearly all employees that are not supervisors, managers with broad authority
to be in the union. There are various possible situations about where
the lines are drawn in any given group. An AWPPW organizer can help
figure out what would be possible in your workplace.
Question: How can I get
more involved or find out more?
Answer: Use the email
links on this page or contact the AWPPW toll free at (877) 99AWPPW for