Wednesday, January 07, 2009

ST. Augustine Record Employees, This One's For You -- CWA Newspaper Guild Tells "How to Organize" A Union At Our Local Newspaper

Why Organize
Workers organize to help each other improve conditions in their workplace. Together and through a union, workers have a say in pay and working conditions.

We can help you build a strong organization to better enable you and your co-workers to negotiate good contracts and increase standards of living and quality of life.

With a union, you and your fellow workers can join together and create a positive vision for the workplace.

How to Organize
Interested in organizing a union in your workplace? A union is simply a majority of employees who join together to better their work lives.

Under the National Labor Relations Action (NLRA) you have the legal right to form a union in your workplace. The NLRA says:

Section 7:
"Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representation of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining·."

Section 8(a):
"It shall be an unfair labor practice for an employer to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in section 7·."

Getting Started
To get a union started, the first thing you need to do is talk to your co-workers. Do they share the same concerns you have? Or, do they have other issues? Is there a common theme to these concerns such as lack of respect and dignity; lack of a voice in the workplace; unfair treatment; and/or wages and benefits lower than other people working in the same industry?

Workers Create Their Own Organization
Our experience tells us that it's best when workers organize themselves if they are to create a viable organization in their workplace. Guild organizers and staff can help. But it's the workers who must join together and build their organization. After talking with your co-workers to find out their issues, you can call Guild to talk with a union organizer. He or she will set up a meeting with you and some of your co-workers. Together, you will create a plan for a organizing a union in your workplace.

A Typical Organizing Campaign
The campaign will consist of talking with co-workers about the union, asking them to sign a petition of support. When there is a significant majority of support, the union will file for an election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Usually, the NLRB will then meet with the union and the employer to establish the criteria for employees who will be eligible to vote in the union election. The NLRB sets a date for a secret ballot election.

What You Can Do
Under Section 7 of the NLRA, you have the legal right to:

Attend meetings to discuss joining a union.

Read, distribute, and discuss union literature (as long as you do this in non-work areas during non-work times, such as during breaks or lunch hours).

Wear union buttons, t-shirts, stickers, hats, or other items on the job.

Sign a card asking your employer to recognize and bargain with the union.

Sign petitions or file grievances related to wages, hours, working conditions, and other job issues.

Ask other employees to support the union, to sign union cards or petitions, or to file grievances.

Bargaining a Contract
After the union's election victory is officially certified by the NLRB, your employer is legally required to negotiate in "good faith" with the union on a written contract covering wages, hours, and other working conditions.

Public Workers
Some public workers do not have the right to bargain collectively. However, they do have the right to form a union and work together to lobby for better wages and working conditions. Contact the Guild office to find out more information.

Contact Guild Organizers
If you want more information about organizing your workplace or you want to get involved in one of TNG-CWA's organizing campaigns, please contact Eric Geist in our Organizing Department. Please include the following information: first and last name, e-mail address, home address, phone number, name of your employer, your job title, and all of your questions/concerns/comments. We look forward to hearing from you!

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