Under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), employees have the legal right to form a union in the workplace.
The NLRA says:
“Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organization, to bargain collectively through representation of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activites for the pupose of collective bargaining…”
“It shall be an unfair labor practive for an employer… to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of the right guaranteed in section 7…”
You can and are legally entitled to the right to form a union in your workplace and an employer cannot stop you from doing just that.
The backbone of a successful campaign is a strong employee organizing committee. These are the people who feel strongly enough about working under a union contract to motivate the rest of the crew during the tough times of the campaign and to communicate information from various sources throughout the process. The organizing committee should be large and representive of different classifications, shifts, and other groupings among the crew.
It is critical that a complete crew list be constructed as soon as possible. Throughout an organizing campaign it is imperative that the organizing committee and union staff are able to communicate with employees quickly and easily. The crew list needs to include contact information such as employees’ names, phone numbers, emails, and home addresses. It should also include information on the employees’ roles in the workplace: job classifications, departments, and shifts.
After a strong organizing committee is in place and the committee members have determined that their co-workers support unionizing, that support is formalized through documents called “authorization cards.” These are post-card sized forms authorizing the IATSE to represent employees for purposes of collective bargaining. It is important to understand that your signed card serves as a pledge of your commitment to the organizing process.
Authorization cards serve to test and demonstrate that a solid majority of employees are committed to forming a union. While the EMPLOYER WILL NOT SEE WHO SIGNED THE CARDS, the employer will never know how many cards were signed. The more cards we have, the stronger our message.
Once we have enough cards, we usually contact the company to ask for voluntary recognition. The process for voluntary recognition involves a “card check” by a neutral party (usually a registered arbitrator) who compares the employer-provided crew list to the signed authorization cards. In cases of voluntary recognition, a company agrees to recognize the union and negotiate a first contract once the neutral third party has confirmed that a majority of the crew has signed cards.
After we win the election, the NLRB grants the union recognition and issues a “certification of representation” to the union. The employer is then legally required to “negotiate in good faith” with the union. At this point, some or all of the organizing committee transitions into the Negotiating Committee. These individuals attend all bargaining sessions and keep their co-workers apprised of the negotiation progress. Continuous unit building during the negotiating phase is essential to maintain momentum and keep up pressure until the successful conclusion of our endeavor.