Organizing a union involves several basic steps that culminate in a worker election.

Most commonly, the first piece starts with private discussions among employees about the workplace, followed by the creation of an organizing committee. Typically, employees contact an already established union that in turn provides an organizer who helps give information, planning and support.

After an organizing committee is created and established, members identify union demands and put in place a workplace issues program to build support among prospective union employees ahead of a union election.

Organizers then work to get a majority of employees to sign membership cards. The cards in most cases are used to petition the National Labor Relations Board to hold an employee election on whether to unionize. The NLRB says petitions must show support from at least 30 percent of employees for a vote on whether to unionize to take place.

If the union wins the election, the employer is then obligated to bargain a contract with the newly created bargaining unit.

There are other processes toward unionization as well that do not involve an NLRB election.

Jim Mackinnon