How To Form A Union

Working people in all walks of life join together in unions to gain a voice at work. Union members have a say about pay, benefits, working conditions and how their jobs get done—and having that say gives them a “union advantage.”

Today, more people are taking the step to form unions on the job than at any time in recent history. You can be one of them! Here are three steps that will get you started:

Step 1: Know your rights

Federal and state laws guarantee the right to form unions.

“It is hereby declared to be the policy of the United States to…encourag[e] the practice and procedure of collective bargaining and [to] protect…the exercise by workers of full freedom of association, self-organization and designation of representatives of their own choosing, for the purpose of negotiating the terms and conditions of their employment or other mutual aid or protection.”
National Labor Relations Act

Eligible employees have the right to express their views on unions, to talk with their co-workers about their interest in forming a union, to wear union buttons, to attend union meetings and in many other ways to exercise their constitutional rights to freedom of speech and freedom of association.

Despite these laws, many employers strongly resist their employees’ efforts to gain a voice at work through unionization. So, before you start talking union where you work, get in touch with a union that will help you organize.

As a result of the struggles of labor unions over the last century, all workers have certain legal rights at work.

Step 2: Find out which union is right for you

To form a union on the job, you need the backup and hands-on help from the union you are seeking to join. If you don’t already know which union is most able to help you, find out more about the unions affiliated with the AFL-CIO by visiting their websites.

A list of unions representing workers in Pennsylvania is available on this Web site. Many of of the unions maintain Web sites that will help you contact the right person to assist you.

In Pennsylvania there are a number regional and local councils where unions come together to work toward common goals. To find out about union activity in your community, visit the website of the central labor council in your area, or check local directory assistance for the phone number. Staff members at these offices can put you in touch with a local union that is right for you.

Step 3: Get in touch with a union organizer

Union organizers assist employees in forming unions on the job to give them the same opportunity for dignity and respect, good wages and decent working conditions that union members already have. To get in touch with a union organizer, complete the attached form. The completed form will be forwarded automatically to an organizer at the union you choose. It will not be transmitted or disclosed otherwise.