How Do You Gain Recognition?
The process to become a collective bargaining unit. A step-by-step primer on the process.
The employer says the Union can’t guarantee us anything. Can you?
The first step: sign a card.
Once 60% of the employees sign such a card, the cards are given to the National Labor Relations Board, the Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service or another neutral party, which then schedules and oversees a secret ballot election for the employees to vote on a union. If a majority (50%+1) votes "Yes" then a collective bargaining unit is formed, and you schedule a date with the employer to start negotiating over wages, benefits and working conditions.
Employees sign authorization cards to (1) show that they are interested in a union and (2) authorize the selected union to act as their collective bargaining agent.
Your authorization cards are confidential. Neither your employer nor supervisor will see your card. Under federal labor law, only your union representatives and agents of the NLRB are entitled to see your card. Your card must – and will – be kept confidential at all times.
As soon as the union wins the election and is certified or recognized as the bargaining agent by the NLRB or other party, the union will ask for immediate negotiations with management. Before contract talks begin, committees are formed to discuss key issues, member meetings are held and the union surveys its new members for those things you'd like to see in a contract. Your ideas on wages, benefits and rights on the job will be used to develop the proposals to be negotiated with management. Your union negotiating committee will try to bargain all the improvements you propose.
At this point, the employer and the union put teams together. The employer's team is usually comprised of lawyers or labor consultants, local management and upper management officials.
The union team consists of employees elected by their fellow employees to a negotiation team, union negotiators, and lawyers. The committee you elect, assisted by union officers and staff, will conduct negotiations and provide you with regular reports. The contract is not valid until a majority of eligible members vote by secret ballot to accept it, otherwise known as ratification.
What if a contract can't be reached?
A strike is an action of last resort and seldom occurs. In fact, over 98% of union contracts are settled without a strike. In most unions, strikes can only be authorized by a majority, secret ballot vote of the employees involved. And it’s only smart to vote for a strike if you know you can win. The employer doesn’t want a strike any more than the workers do, so everyone has an incentive to reach a compromise during bargaining.
When the union wins, you will negotiate a contract with the employer. We can make no promises on what the contract will contain – that is for you to decide when you vote on your contract. We can guarantee that the contract will be legally binding, and the union will make sure the contract is enforced.
What can I expect from a union contract?
Here's what this means to you the employee:
The union enforces your contract through a grievance procedure, mediation, or in arbitration, depending on circumstances.
Interested in talking to someone about organizing your workplace? All communications will be treated with confidentiality and there are no obligations. So please contact Local 81 by phone at (503) 251-2381 or contact us via e-mail.
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