For many experiencing unfair practices in the workplace, the idea of a union can be appealing, yet scary. Oftentimes, fear of retaliation or losing your job as a result can prevent you from getting the workers rights you deserve. But unions have proven time and time again to be worth it, and the law ensures you can go about forming one without your boss firing you for it. Here’s Kyle Todd with more on the benefits of a union and why it’s safe to form one.
To start, it’s proven that union workers are better paid, have safer working conditions, have more say on the job and are happier in general, without a union, you have very little rights at work. You have no right to free speech.
You have an at-will employment standard that says your boss can fire you for any reason at all. And you don’t really have any say in what happens at work.
Without a union, the law says that the workplace is like a dictatorship where the boss decides everything that happens and workers have no say in the process.
When you form a union at work, it democratizes the workplace and you suddenly have a contract. You suddenly have a say in what happens at work.
Without a union, you don’t have a right to negotiate your pay. You don’t have a right to grieve things, to challenge unsafe working conditions or unfair things going on at work. Only with a union can you have those things.
So once you’ve decided it’s a good idea to start a union at work, how do you go about doing it?
Step number one is to start having conversations with people you know, who would be friendly to the idea of starting a union. These are folks that either have complained to you or complained with you about low pay, unsafe conditions, things that are really going to agitate around and start discussions around why a union would make things better.
Step two is to take that group and really contact a union organizer to help you expand the coalition more broadly at work.
Now, if you’re not sure what union to contact, you can do some online research and find one in an industry where you work. I really liked the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World). They’re a radical union that organizes in every industry and they’re on the front lines of some really exciting organizing happening right now. But if you’re not sure you can contact our office and we can help connect you with a union organizer.
Step three is you work with the union organizer to help build that broader coalition at work to spread the idea of why a union is needed among all your coworkers.
Step four is where the workers vote and decide whether they are going to have a union through a secret ballot election at work.
Now, at this point, you should understand that you will face opposition from your boss.
They will likely put on an anti-union campaign and spread misinformation and propaganda about why you shouldn’t start a union because they don’t want to pay you better wages. They don’t want to give up that dictatorship they have. The boss doesn’t want a union, but ultimately it’s going to be good for you and your coworkers.
Some people are afraid of starting these conversations. They’re not sure that their coworkers are into the idea, but I will say you will be surprised more people than ever are into the idea of starting a union.
Wages have really stagnated in recent decades, and especially in the last few years.
People are into the idea of starting a union. They’re standing up for their rights at work. I see it every day when I get calls to our office about it, and now is a better time than ever to start a union at work.
Finally, I want to talk about the rights that you have with talking about a union.
You’re protected under the national labor relations act. So again, if you’re feeling shy or afraid, understand that the law protects you.
You can have these conversations about forming a union. It’s not necessarily a good idea to do it in front of a manager, because even though the law protects you, it might not prevent them from taking action against you.
But the law does give you the right to have these conversations to potentially leaflet and wear buttons at work, supporting the union, and really agitate to build support for the union. So know that the law protects you.
So just to recap, now is a great time to start a union at work. If you’re not paid enough, if you’re facing unsafe conditions. And if you just want more democracy in the workplace, I urge you to start those conversations because people are more receptive now than they ever have been.
It’s a great time to start a union. There are organizers out there to help you. You can call our firm to help you.