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What it takes to start a union in New York

On Behalf of | Dec 10, 2021 | New York Labor Law Blog, Union Representation |

Starting and running a union is an incredible amount of work. It takes time, money and manpower to pull off, and there are many things that could go wrong along the way. If you have the chance to join an already established union, that may be the more practical choice. However, if a union isn’t available for your particular industry, and you insist on forming one, here is what you need to know.

Get organized

Workers have a right to organize under both state and federal law. Your first step will be to make sure that a sizeable number of your coworkers also want a union. Talk to them, meet with them after work, and gather ideas for what you want your union to be and what you hope to accomplish.

Once you are sure that you have enough support, put together a petition for the formation of a union and gather signatures from your coworkers stating their desire to become a part of the newly formed union. Once you have the signatures of at least 30% of workers, you are ready for the next step.

Follow the correct procedure

Your employer does not have to negotiate with a group of employees merely because they demand it. In order to get the backing of federal law, you need the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to certify your union. Once that happens, your employer will be required to negotiate in good faith with your union representatives.

Once you gather the signatures of at least 30% of the workforce, the NLRB can step in and hold an election. If the majority of workers vote to uphold the union, then the NLRB will certify it, and it will have authorization to engage in negotiations on your behalf.

After formation, you will have to put in place a plan for securing funding, electing representatives, achieving goals, securing legal counsel and so forth. But once your union is NLRB-certified, you will be well on your way toward being able to negotiate fair and reasonable working conditions with your employer.