How to Start a Union in 7 Steps

Step 1: Talk to Your Coworkers
A union is when workers join together to improve their jobs. Talk to your coworkers about wages, benefits and working conditions to see if they want to make them better, too.

Step 2: Talk to a Union Organizer
No matter your questions, we’re here to answer them and serve you. From learning how you can start a union to better understanding all the steps involved in negotiating a contract, we want you to have all the information you need.

Step 3: Start a Committee
With the help of a Union Organizer, you and your coworkers will build an organizing committee. This will be the key group of leaders at your workplace who feel strongest about the need to organize. Your committee will then work together to get more coworkers involved with the effort to win a union contract that makes everyone’s job better.

Step 4: Know Your Rights
Unions like the UFCW will bring you more control over your wages, benefits and workplace conditions. Companies would rather keep that control for themselves, so they often try to discourage employees from starting a union. Don’t worry, it is your right, protected by federal labor law, to start a union. You have the right to talk to your coworkers about starting a union and about workplace conditions, including pay.

Step 5: Sign Union Support Cards
Once a majority of your coworkers agree on the need to have a union, you will sign support cards. These cards declare that you want to start a union and have the UFCW as your partner at work to help negotiate better wages, benefits and working conditions.

Step 6: Vote!
Once a majority of your coworkers have signed union support cards, they are submitted to the National Labor Relations Board to request a union election. This part can take several weeks as the Board decides on an election date and determines who at your workplace can vote. If a majority of your coworkers vote YES at your election, your employer now has to recognize your union and bargain with you and your coworkers.

Step 7: Negotiate Your Contract
Congratulations! It’s time to get the benefits you deserve! UFCW and our negotiating team will begin working with you and your coworkers to negotiate your first union contract. You and your coworkers will have the opportunity to vote on the contract before it is finalized to ensure it has the benefits and value you deserve. After you’ve won your first contract, you can officially obtain UFCW membership!

Click below to watch a brief UFCW video on how to start a union.