Union Structure

Did you know that there's a Bill of Rights for union members? Or that unions pick members to bargain with management on your behalf? Not all unions are structured the same. Some affiliate with larger labor organizations for advice and others stay independent, seeing themselves as their own best advocates. However you decide to structure your unit, what matters most is that it meets the needs of your members. These articles discuss the structures of U.S. unions.

What is a labor union?

As union membership has declined in recent years, misconceptions around collective bargaining have grown. Maybe we’re biased, but just because unions aren’t as intense as they’re portrayed on TV doesn’t mean the work they do is any less exciting. So what exactly is a labor union?

Private vs. public unions

If you’re planning to organize your workplace, it’s crucial to understand how unions and the laws that govern them differ from sector to sector.

What’s a bargaining unit?

Sometimes the word union and phrase bargaining unit are used interchangeably, but knowing how one functions in relation to the other under U.S. law is key in the early stages of organizing your workplace.

Union dues explained

Dues are a regular payment from members that fund their union. They finance crucial union operations like contract negotiations and enforcement, organizing, and member-driven programs. It's one of the most common questions about unionizing so let's break down the basics.

Workplace mapping: know your office terrain

In order to build a successful union campaign, you want a clear and accurate picture of where there is support, where outreach is needed, and where there may be anti-union people who need to be neutralized.

How to run a union meeting

Unions are a group of people working collectively towards a solution. Whether in-person or virtual, it’s important to know how to facilitate effective meetings so that you can keep your organizing campaign moving forward.

Unions and the political landscape

Unions and democracies have a lot in common as each are systems that make decisions based on the majority opinions of the people they serve.

Should my union affiliate?

While there certainly are benefits to forming an independent union, you don’t have to go it alone. Joining an affiliated union can bring myriad benefits to you and your coworkers.

A day in the life of a union organizer

Though the unpredictable nature of people and politics means that strategies and plans change rapidly, there are some standard tools in every organizer’s kit.

Social media tool kit

Publicizing your union goals, updates, and more to the public allows you to make inroads with communities involved in the labor movement and build solidarity.

Strategies for engaging remote workers

Keeping members engaged is all about finding a balance between encouraging participation without alienating them or burning people out. To quote the lefty poet and playwright Oscar Wilde; “The trouble with socialism is that it takes up too many evenings.”

Who determines who’s in my union?

Especially if you’re just getting started, this may seem like a lot to take in, but it’s important to know that you need to be strategic about who your union represents from the outset and be able to see through the sometimes murky lines that divide you and your coworkers from management.