Aren't sure if you're ready? Going public at the wrong time can be risky and hurt your unionizing campaign. Get in touch with a Unit advisor or other professional union organizer to strategize.
Now that you're sure you want to take your union efforts public, we’ve outlined five ways you can do just that.
5.) Create social media accounts for your union — and get active
In the past two decades, social media has become an essential part of grassroots organizing. Additionally, the COVID-19 era has forced more people to work remotely than they were before, and many signal that they would like to continue doing so even after the pandemic ends.
What’s that mean for you? Your efforts to take your union public in the workplace aren’t necessarily confined to a physical workplace.
Start with Twitter. As a text-based platform, it allows you to formulate posts in a variety of ways, including long threads that can read like a news story (with the ability to include video and images). Plus, its ability to follow-up on past posts with new updates can make your account a “virtual history book of sorts” of your efforts.
Stay active and stand with other union efforts across industries and locations. You’d be surprised at the wide-ranging efforts that are taking place, from that of a satirical news publication to a local fulfillment center to a nationwide grocery chain.
Plus, any of the other ways to bring your union public in the workplace are great fodder for a social media post.
4.) Create union-branded marketing
You’re forming a union — be loud and proud about it. There is power and safety in numbers, so the more people that announce (and wear) their support of your union, the more legitimized your efforts are.
Create a logo, tagline (or simply “your company’s name” + “union”) on t-shirts, badges, hats or pins and wear them in your workplace. Branded pens, totes, notebooks and mugs — those workplace items that are on commonplace around the office — signal your support in a more under-the-radar approach.
Placing sticky notes with your union name or logo around the workplace is a quick and spreadable way of making your union known. Replacing those sticky notes with bumper stickers makes the efforts more permanent, though, but depending on an employer’s view of the law could be deemed as vandalism.
Not in a physical office? Create a video filter or frame that others can download and use when in virtual meetings.
A picture — or, in this case, a t-shirt, pen or filter — is worth a thousand words.
3.) Gather your petitions
By gathering signed petitions, you’re signaling to management that your union-creating efforts shouldn’t just be a blip on their radar.
And even if you’ve only gathered signed petitions from less than 30% of your coworkers (the amount needed to file a petition for a representation election), it at least shows you’re taking the necessary steps toward making your union official.
2.) Draft an open letter
Not only can an open letter give your employer an idea of your union’s own goals, motivations, and intentions, but it can also signal to fellow coworkers — and even people outside of your workplace — about your efforts.
The following open letter was written by Secretly Group, an independent music label, in the spring of 2021:
What this open letter does well (and what you can emulate):
- Provides a history of the business.
- Includes the impact that workers drive for the company and its industry.
- Clearly states the goals behind forming a union.
- Outlines their communication with outside labor organizations, company management, and others who will be instrumental in ensuring the union will succeed.
1.) Walk-in — or out — on management
Management in a workplace will do everything they can to ensure whispers (or even shouts) about unions are silenced.
Enter, the element of surprise.
By walking in on management, you’re forcing them to hear about your concerns and your union efforts and intentions. If a company’s management can completely upend workers’ stability in less than two minutes, why can’t you reciprocate those efforts?
If that’s not possible, walking out on management (and publicizing your efforts, as this union did in early 2021) leverages the most important thing you bring to the workplace: your work.