How to start a union at work

Updated February 21, 2017

A union is an organized group of workers who join together to help make decisions about their work, and if you've never considered being in one before, it's time to look into it. Joining or starting a union can give you greater bargaining power for wages and benefits, and create a sense of community at your place of work.

Know that federal and state laws both protect your right to form a union.

Contact a union organizer to help guide you when planning your union.

Keep in mind that your rights extend to organizing interest meetings, wearing union buttons and signing up new members.

Know that the majority of workers who are considering unionizing must work in similar capacities and roles in the workplace.

Know that you will most likely receive higher wages with a union. Union pay tends to be higher for all occupations.

Expect better health care and pensions when forming a union. Union workers are also more likely to receive disability and retirement.

Understand that your state may not have "right to work" provisions. This may help your union become even stronger, with better bargaining power.

Know that you should contact local unions for support.

Check your phone book for local union contacts or contact a union by checking out the Resources below.

Look into the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which can help you unionize your line of work. Even those whose jobs aren't covered by the NLRB should verify that the unionization of their profession will be considered by the NLRB.

Obtain a Union Authorization Card to start organizing your union. You will need to collect 30 percent of the employee's signatures.

Submit your Union Authorization Card to the NLRB for review.

Wait for NLRB to recommend the next step. Once approval of the Union Authorization Card is reached, you can prepare for an election.

Set the date of the union election.

Campaign to keep potential union members in the know.

Obtain union status by getting a 50 percent plus 1 result in your election.

Know that after approval, NLRB acts as the bargaining unit between the employers and employees.


Research your eligibility to form a union. Supervisors may be excluded from coverage, as well as some other types of employees.

Things You'll Need

  • Union Authorization Card
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