top of page


SBWU Madison

"At-Will-Employee", that is what you are if you do not have a union. As an "at-will-employee" you are at the mercy of your employer. Your employer can fire you tomorrow for no logical reason, and there is nothing you can do. Also, as "at-will-employee" you are at the mercy of your employer when it comes to your wages. A company is not obligated to pay its workers what they deserve, unless there's a union. As an "at-will-employee" you do not have the right to speak up about your working conditions. The bottom line is that as an "at-will-employee" you do not have a voice at work.

If you are friendly with management ask them if they would be OK to have a customer or vendor that demands to not have a contract? Their answer should not shock you. Most companies will demand contracts from their vendors and customers, and that's OK. So, why shouldn't the same be for you? A Collective Bargaining Agreement is a legal contract between the workers and the employer. This contract addresses things such as wages, health insurance rates, working conditions, disciplinary procedures, vacations, among other things that affect the way you do your job.

SBWU Overland Park
Borgers Strike

We, at Workers United, believe that every worker in North America should have a union. Unions have proven, throughout history, that they are the driving force to uplift the working class by bargaining for better wages and working conditions. On an average a Union workers makes 20% more in wages and benefits than their non-union counterparts. And a Union gives you a voice, not just at work but in your community.

 11 Essential Steps to Organizing a Union 

Organizing a union is all about building and maintaining power in your workplace. By forming a union, you are exercising your legal right to collectively bargain with your employer over conditions at work, including wages, benefits, scheduling, overtime rules, and more. Joining a union provides you with the resources necessary to bargain and enforce your union contract with your employer. Every union organizing campaign is different, but listed below are some essential steps to winning your union with the help of a union organizer.


1. Build Your Base

Start talking privately with a few trusted coworkers about the shared issues you’re having at work and about organizing a union. Together, determine who else would be interested and privately reach out to them.


2. Contact a CMRJB Organizer

Contact the Workers United organizing department and set up a meeting with an organizer to help you develop an organizing plan. Our organizers have the skills and experience to assist you with everything from having conversations with your coworkers to winning a union election.

Workers United Non-Profits

3. Build a Committee of Workplace Leaders

You can’t build a union alone! You will need to identify others at your workplace who are not only deeply committed to forming a union but are respected by your co-workers. Workplace leaders help build support for the union by gathering information, having conversations with other workers about the union, identifying issues that others care about, running union meetings, and more, all with the help of a union organizer.


4. Research the Company

Knowing the company helps you determine the right strategy to win your union. You want to know who has command and control of the company, how it operates, and to identify outside stakeholders (other unions, community/religious groups, politicians, etc.) in your fight for a union who will support your campaign.


5. Map the Workplace

To build support for the union, you need to talk to as many coworkers as possible, starting with the people you know will be most supportive. To make sure no stone is left unturned, you will build, and continuously update, a contact list of your coworkers and use it to assess their support for the union. This list should tell you which department and shift your coworkers work so you can decide the best time, place, and person to contact them.

6. Build Overwhelming Support - Sign a Union Card

In order to win union recognition from your employer, you will need to build overwhelming support by having your coworkers sign “authorization cards,” showing their desire to join the union. During this process, it is extremely important that the union stay “underground,” meaning you and your coworkers keep your efforts a secret from management. Authorization cards are completely confidential and your employer will never see who signed them. Depending on your workplace, the process to build enough support to file for an election could take weeks or months.


7. File for Your Union Election

Once you get a significant majority of workers signed up on authorization cards, you will use those cards to file for a union election. With the help of a union organizer, you will take your authorization cards to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to file for a union election. The NLRB is the federal agency that oversees union elections and protects workers from any kind of retaliation from their employers. The NLRB will set a date for a union vote, usually within three weeks of the day you file.

SBWU Chicago action

8. Go Public

Once you file for your election, the NLRB will notify your employer that his/her employees (who still remain anonymous) intend to form a union. Because forming a union holds your employer accountable and gives you a say over things like wages, benefits, hours, and safety, your employer will likely fight your effort to unionize. By devoting time and money to an anti-union campaign, your employer will attempt to convince you and your coworkers – either by illegal intimidation or a “friendly” approach – that forming a union is against your interests. To dissuade management from doing this and to keep morale high among your coworkers, you will need to publicly show your numbers in various ways during the run-up to your union election. This may be as simple as wearing union buttons to work or as elaborate as a rally where members of your community show their support for your organizing drive.



You win your union with a simple majority: 50 percent of the workforce plus one vote. For example, if 50 workers vote, 26 must vote for the union.

10. Negotiate for a Better Workplace 

The fight’s not over! Once you win union recognition, your employer, by law, must sit down and bargain a contract “in good faith” with its union employees. You and your coworkers will select representatives from your workplace to bargain the contract with the help of a union staff member and an attorney. The first contract lays out the conditions you are entitled to and is the foundation upon which improvements at your workplace will be built for years to come. This contract is federally enforceable, meaning your employer can be disciplined for violating it. Though your employer is required to bargain “in good faith” – meaning it must make a good faith effort to agree on the terms of a contract – it will try to give up as little as possible in negotiations. In order to make the terms of your agreement with the employer the best they can be, your union brothers and sisters must maintain their unity and strength. This means continuing to show your numbers and support like you did during your election campaign.


11. Vote on your Contract

Once you finish negotiations, you and your coworkers will have the opportunity to vote for or against the contract. Only if a majority of your coworkers vote for the contract will it be authorized.

Local 122 Milwaukee Bargaining
bottom of page