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News :: Labor
Ever wonder how unions get started? Most people have no idea.
27 Feb 2007
Live better, work union sticker.jpg
Most union members get hired by their employer and happily find themselves with all the benefits that come from being united in a union. Except for the more recently organized group at Veolia, the vast majority of Local 201 members have no idea what workers go through to form a union.

Organizing a union isn't very complicated – but it's not something you can do alone. It starts when a few people decide they want to stick together to improve their wages and working conditions.

They form a group to educate themselves about the advantages of having a real voice at work through collective bargaining. Over time, the group recruits people from each department and shift to serve on a union committee.

The hardest part is for the union committee to unite a majority of their co-workers behind the basic idea that we're better off "sticking together" in a union rather than working alone.

That job is made even more difficult when management gets involved (as it did at GE back in the 1930s, and more recently at Lynn Wastewater Treatment EOS) by aggressively interfering in the workers' decision about forming a union.

Although current labor laws protect workers' right to form unions, employers use both legal and illegal anti-union tactics to persuade workers that it is not in their interests to "stick together."

Over the last 50 years, pro-management courts have weakened the law so much that union elections are now totally stacked against workers. For example, thirty percent of employers fire pro-union workers during a union campaign. More than half coerce workers into opposing unions with bribery or favoritism.

With such weak labor laws allowing these practices, workers are finding that it's better to have an agreement with management before the campaign allowing the union committee to gain collective bargaining rights by having an impartial authority check signed membership cards proving the union has majority support.

Once majority support is positively established, then management meets with an elected committee of co-workers to begin negotiating their first contract!

A proposed change in U.S. labor law, the Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 800) would make it easier for workers to use the "card check" approach outlined above and also win better first contracts. Learn more about it at: or contact me by email at rwilson (at)
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Devil's Advocate Thoughts on This Law
27 Feb 2007
Repealing the 1947 Taft-Hartley restrictions on the secondary boycott that helped put the labor movement into free fall, or, especially timely now, the restrictions on organizing supervisors (or so-called supervisors) would increase worker power through solidarity. This card-check change, while an improvement, does more to increase established union's members.

My full thoughts at the first link:

You can contact me (ben melançon) at the Agaric Design Collective (open source web development, considering unionizing even though we're all worker-owners), second link:
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