Questions & Answers About a Union

 Question: 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 get started?

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 your workplace.


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.


AWPPW’s 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 of life.


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:


Section 7: "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 more information.