Unionizing 101

A Step-by-Step Guide to Forming a Union in your Workplace

The IAM has a long and proud history of helping workers make their workplaces better by unionizing. We’re ready to lend our expertise in negotiating your first Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and provide you with all the resources at our disposal. Unionizing a worksite isn’t easy — it requires commitment, education and persistence. We are always up for the challenge, and we will support you every step of the way, but your time, energy and your participation are the most important ingredients of success.

Step 1- Contact. We are always willing to meet with employees who want to better their lives and livelihoods. We actively reach out to workers in key industrial sectors where we have an established presence and a proven record of negotiating wage and benefit improvements. You can contact us by clicking this link.

Step 2Committee Building. From the very beginning we ask workers to help build support in the workplace. Their job is to keep their coworkers informed throughout the process, share information and answer questions.

Step 3Showing of Interest. When there is sufficient interest in forming a union, the next step is to make contact with each and every employee. We use a variety of methods to gauge your support throughout the unionizing campaign, but it begins with your signature on a post card or petition. Signing the card or petition shows that you are ready to unionize. Your right to sign a card or petition is protected by Federal Law.

Step 4File Petition with Labor Board. When a majority of your coworkers sign the post card or petition, we will file for election with the proper government agency. Depending on the unit, the election may be handled by different agencies. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is the agency responsible for handling elections for Private Sector and Service Contract Act employees.

Step 5Define the Unit and Schedule Election Date. The NLRB will determine if a “hearing” is needed to define the eligible voters in the unit, and they will establish the election date. The Company often disagrees with the Union regarding the group of eligible voters, and will try to stall the process as much as possible and give them more time to erode support. Companies will often run an anti-union campaign to frighten the workers into voting against the Union. IAM Organizers working with the leaders in your workplace will help guide you through the process, and will provide information every step of the way to combat the employer’s fear campaign. Federal Law protects your right to a fair election free of harassment and intimidation. The election will be conducted and supervised by the NLRB.

Step 6 – Election. The Labor Board conducts the election in your workplace. It’s a secret-ballot election controlled by a Labor Board Agent. You will be given time to go vote during working hours. Neither the company nor the Union will know how you voted until the ballots are counted. The Labor Board Agent counts the ballots and files the official Tally Sheet for the election. A simple majority decides the outcome of the election. The election results are certified within 10 days.

Step 7 – Negotiations. Once the Labor Board certifies that you won your election, we will begin to prepare for negotiations. The first step in negotiating a contract is surveying the employees to identify their issues and priorities. Next, the workers will elect a negotiating committee, who will work alongside our highly trained Representatives and meet with the Company to negotiate an agreement.

Step 8 – Ratification. Once a “Tentative Agreement” is reached, you and your co-workers will vote on whether to accept or reject the contract. If the employees believe the proposed contract is deficient, you may have to strike to ensure your success. It takes two votes under the IAM Constitution to authorize a strike, so there will be two votes taken at the ratification meeting. We take labor disputes very seriously. Ninety-eight percent (98%) of all IAM contracts are negotiated without a strike.