Choosing a Union: How to Connect With a Union Organizer
CEO & Founder
Choosing the right union takes time.
“You want to find a union that knows their stuff, can support you and your coworkers and isn’t too busy for you,” organizer Emily Likins-Ehlers writes.
To find that union, you first have to seek out unions in your industry or sector. Then, you have to learn as much as you can about them and assess how well they are suited to represent your interests. Only after this research is complete should you decide which union is the right partner for you.
Once you do make that decision, it’s time to reach out to the organization and connect with a leader or representative. This person can speak to your concerns and help your workplace move forward with the unionization process.
Find the Right Person to Talk to at the Union
The hardest part of this task is finding the right person to talk to at the union. There are a few resources that you can turn to for help.
- Stop by or call the local. If the union has a local, that’s the best place to find someone to talk to. Keep in mind some locals are not staffed during the day, so you would need to turn to the national for contact information of local organizers.
- Call or email the national union. The nationals have their contact information published on their websites and social media pages. Some, like the United Steelworkers (USW), even include the contact information for regional or local leaders. Someone at any level of the organization will be able to help you and/or redirect you to the right person.
- Contact labor organizations. If going through a local or national union fails, reach out to the AFL-CIO or National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regional offices and ask them for a referral. Those organizations should be able to at least get you in touch with someone at the union who can help you reach the right person.
When you do finally connect with someone, be prepared to not only ask your questions and discuss your concerns, but also to answer questions the union organizers may have regarding your workplace and unionization effort.
Ask Your Questions
At this stage, you could have lingering questions about the union itself and the organizing process in general. Now’s the time to address those concerns.
Before you initiate a conversation with a union representative, prepare a list of questions that would help you and your coworkers better understand how the union can help you. Consider asking questions about:
- How the union operates.
- Member benefits.
- The negotiation process and collective bargaining agreements.
- How the union handles grievances.
- The cost of dues and how they are collected.
- What the expectations are for your workplace unit.
- The next steps in the unionization process and what you can expect from management.
Remember, the goal of these initial conversations is to further assess how well the union fits your needs so you can make a final decision about who will represent your organizing unit. Don’t be shy about asking probing questions.
Be Prepared to Answer Questions
Just as you are assessing the union, the union will be assessing you. Be prepared to give them as much information as possible about your workplace and unionization effort. The union representative will likely seek specific details about:
- The number of employees who support organizing.
- Compensation and benefits information.
- Any ongoing conflicts between management and employees.
- Workplace issues confronting workers.
- Where you are in the unionization process.
- Your goals and expectations for the union.
Such information helps union organizers understand how they can help light a path forward for you. As you embark on that journey together, a tool like UnionTrack® ENGAGE® can help facilitate communication between you, your coworkers, and union organizers.
Images by: fizkes/©123RF.com