Why Won't They Talk About the Real Issues?
It's always the same.
Wherever you go. When the workers try to organize themselves together to address real problems like pay, respect, and fairness, management wants to change the subject. And they've got lots of ways of avoiding these real issues.
They create a climate of fear.
It's hard for anyone to think straight when they're afraid. And that's what management does. They tell us all kinds of half-truths and inaccuracies about union dues, strikes or CWA's Constitution.
The "union" is "us". Why be afraid of ourselves? We're the ones who'll decide what we want and how we'll do it.
They bad-mouth CWA and label the union “outsiders.”
They'll say the workplace is now full of conflict and blame it on CWA. Quite frankly, there was a lot of conflict here before we even knew about CWA. That's why we called them÷ to find out what we could do to change how unhappy we were.
Actually, we want all of us to work together to make this a better place to work. And we've got some good ideas. But management insists on saying things will be worse with CWA. But, CWA will be “us.” Seems like they're just worried that with a union we'll start to gain control of our own lives.
They try the "Give us another chance" routine.
When all else fails, we can expect them to promise us anything. They'll say, "Give us six months and we'll solve all your problems without a union."
Well, if we don't need a union, why didn't they pick the last six months to solve all our problems? Some of us have heard promises before. And that's all they turned out to be – promises.
Fortunately, workers here, like other places, are smart enough to see though management's smoke screens and fear tactics. We want to discuss the real issues, not sling mud like a bunch of politicians.
Whatever management does, we're sticking to the facts. We know we need a union, and we know it'll be good for all of us.
How To Organize A Union Where You Work
Interested in organizing a union in your workplace? A union is simply a majority of employees who join together to better their work lives.
Under the National Labor Relations Action (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. . . ."
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?
Workers Create Their Own Organization
Our experience tells us that it's best when workers organize themselves if they are to create a viable organization in their workplace. NABET 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 call NABET 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 organizing a union in your workplace.
A Typical Organizing Campaign
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.
What You Can Do
Under Section 7 of the NLRA, you have the legal right to:
- Attend meetings to discuss joining a union.
- 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).
- Wear union buttons, t-shirts, stickers, hats, or other items on the job.
- Sign a card asking your employer to recognize and bargain with the union.
- Sign petitions or file grievances related to wages, hours, working conditions, and other job issues.
- Ask other employees to support the union, to sign union cards or petitions, or to file grievances.
Bargaining A Contract
After the union's election victory is officially certified by the NLRB, your employer is legally required to negotiate in "good faith" with the union on a written contract covering wages, hours, and other working conditions.
Some public workers do not have the right to bargain collectively. However, they do have the right to form a union and work together to lobby for better wages and working conditions. Contact NABET to find out the laws in your state.
Give Us A Call
If you're interested in organizing a union in your workplace, call us at 202-434-1254 or e-mail us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. An organizer will contact you. He or she can set up a meeting with you and some of your co-workers to discuss the possibility of a union in your workplace.
Your Government Conducts an Election
Information for Voters in Labor Board Elections
Prior to any election conducted by the NLRB there will be posted at the place of your work a Notice of Election issued by the NLRB to inform you of:
The date, hours, and place of the election
- The date, hours, and place of the election
- The payroll period for voter eligibility
- A description of the voting unit of employees
- General rules as to conduct of elections.
There is a sample ballot on the Notice of Election which, except for color, is a reproduction of the ballot you will receive when you vote. You should read the Notice of Election so that you will be familiar with the ballot.
The Voting Place
In the voting place will be a table, a voting booth, and a ballot box. At the table there will be observers for the union and the employer and a representative of the NLRB, each of whom will be wearing an official badge. The observer’s badges will have "Observer" on them. The NLRB representative will wear an "Agent" badge.
The Agent is in charge of the election. If you have questions, talk only with the Agent.
The Voting Procedure
Go to the voting table, standing in line if necessary.
- Give your name, and clock number, if you have one, to the observers. The observers will find your name on the voting list and tell the Agent your name has been found. If any questions are asked, talk only with the Agent. Do not argue with the observers.
- After your name has been checked off, go to the Agent to obtain your ballot.
- Go into the vacant voting booth. Mark the ballot with one X only. Do not sign the ballot. Fold the ballot to hide the mark and leave the voting booth taking your ballot with you.
- Put your ballot in the box yourself. Do not let anyone else touch it.
- Leave the polling place.
You will notice that only the Agent handled the blank ballots and only you handled your marked ballot. Once your marked ballot is in the ballot box it becomes mixed with all other ballots in the box and cannot be identified.
No one can determine how you have voted.
Questions sometimes arise about eligibility of certain persons. An observer or the NLRB representative can challenge an individual’s right to vote. This challenge, however, must be for good cause and not for personal reasons; for example, a name may not appear on the eligibility list because of a clerical error.
If your vote is challenged, take your ballot into the booth, mark it, fold it to keep the mark secret, and return to the voting table. The Agent will give you a challenged ballot envelope on the stub of which are written your name and clock number and the reason for the challenge. You put the ballot in the envelope. You seal the envelope, and you deposit it in the ballot box.
You will note that while your name is on the stub of the envelope it is not on the ballot.
Secrecy of your vote is maintained because if challenged ballots must be counted and if later investigation reveals challenged voters are eligible to vote, the stub containing the name and clock number of the individual voter is first torn off and discarded. All challenged ballot envelopes are then mixed together. The ballots are then removed and counted by the Board Agent. By this method secrecy is maintained.
Rights of Employees
You are entitled to vote your free choice in a fair, honest, secret-ballot election.
The National Labor Relations Board is the agency of the United States Government which protects that right as well as other important rights guaranteed by the National Labor Relations Act.
Under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, employees have the right:
- To self-organization
- To form, join, or assist labor organizations
- To bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing
- To act together for the purposes of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection
- To refuse to do any or all of these things. However, the union and employer, in a State where such agreements are permitted, may enter into a lawful union-security clause requiring employees to join the union.
The National Labor Relations Board wants all eligible voters to be familiar with their rights under the law and wants both employers and unions to know what is expected of them when it holds an election.
When an election is held, the Board protects your right to a free choice under the law. Improper conduct, such as described on the next page, will not be permitted. We expect all parties to Board elections to cooperate fully with this Agency in maintaining basic principles of a fair election as expressed by law. The National Labor Relations Board as an agent of the United States Government does not endorse any choice in the election.
Protection of Your Rights
The Board applies rules to keep its elections fair and honest. If agents of either unions or employers interfere with your right to a free, fair, and honest election, the election can be set aside by the Board. Where appropriate the Board provides other remedies, such as reinstatement for employees and may result in the setting aside of the election:
- Threatening loss of jobs or benefits by an employer or a union.
- Promising or granting promotions, pay raises, or other benefits, to influence an employee’s vote by a party capable of carrying out such promises.
- An employer firing employees to discourage or encourage union activity or a union causing them to be fired to encourage union activity.
- Making campaign speeches to assembled groups of employees on company time within the 24 hour period before the election.
- Incitement by either an employer or a union of racial or religious prejudice by inflammatory appeals.
- Threatening physical force or violence to employees by a union or an employer to influence their votes.
- The National Labor Relations Board protects your right to a fair election and a free choice.