If you’re tired of going to work every day and not getting the respect and treatment you deserve, maybe you need a union. It’s not as hard as you think to organize. Here are some tips:
• Start by talking to just one or two coworkers about unionizing. If you already have a close relationship with your coworkers, and you trust them to not say anything to management, then you can ask them what they think about forming a union.
• If you don’t know your coworkers well, then start by getting to know them. Talk with them, hang out with them, help them out with the day-to-day difficulties on the job. When you’re ready, start talking to them about work. Ask them what they like about the job and what they don’t like. A lot of people want to avoid being a complainer, so they might not want to say anything negative about work. Go ahead and share some of your frustrations about the job — this gives them permission to go there, and gets them thinking about their own personal complaints.
• Make sure to listen. Ask questions and listen to your coworkers more than you talk. You will accomplish a lot more by listening than by talking. You have two ears and one mouth — listen twice as much as you talk.
• After you hear what they want to change, then ask how they think you can accomplish that? Can one of you make that change on your own, by just going and asking management to change? What about if all the workers together combine their power to make change happen? Well, that is a union. Once you have a few coworkers who want to unionize, you can get started.
• Keep your organizing secret until you and your coworkers are ready to be public with your union. Once the company finds out you are organizing, it is much harder to talk with your coworkers.
• Contacting an experienced Union Organizer can make a tremendous difference in coaching you how to inspire your coworkers and in taking the right steps to build a strong union. Being connected to an established union brings you a lot more power than you will have on your own.
• Don’t rush the process. It is a common mistake to try to move faster and get to the next step as soon as possible. You have to build up your power to create an effective union, and if you try to move forward before you have the power you need, you will lose.
• The company will fight your union — they always do. No boss wants to give up all the control they have over you, over the money, and over the workplace. You need to talk with all your coworkers about what to expect when the company starts to fight you. You all need to “inoculate” yourself so you are prepared when they start their campaign of fear tactics, misinformation, or manipulation.
• The company will say a union is a “third party” intruding on the work place. They will ask you to give them another chance to fix all their mistakes before you decide to unionize. They will use legal maneuvers and NLRB hearings to slow down the process in the hope that you lose your spirit and quit your job. It’s illegal for them to punish anyone or even ask anyone about their support for a union, but they will do it anyway because the law is stacked in their favor. Don’t be surprised if your supervisor starts crying in front of you about how they feel betrayed and they just didn’t know about all the problems and they promise they’ll work on making it better. The way to overcome all the employer’s tactics is to have strong relationships in place
There is much more to the process, but once you join with your coworkers and begin to form an organizing committee, you are on your way. Organizing a powerful union will require you to develop your own individual power, and that alone makes it worth it. Multiply that for your coworkers, and you can make change that lasts the rest of your lives.