Form a Union

Open the door to a better future!

WHAT IS A UNION?
A union is an organization that represents employees and deals with management on all issues concerning wages, benefits and conditions of employment.  This gives you, the employees, the power of many … not simply the power of one.  The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), affiliated with the AFL/CIO, is one of the largest private sector unions, with over 1.5 million members.

HOW DO WE FORM A UNION?
After the UFCW has a majority of signatures on authorization cards, there are three ways employees can become unionized.

 1.  The UFCW will request a secret ballot election by filing a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).  The NLRB is an agency of the United States Federal Government.  This is, by far, the most common way to become unionized.

 2.  Your employer has the option of voluntarily recognizing the union.  This is the least common method of organizing.

 3.  Finally, if your employer commits a large number of unfair labor practices, which would make it impossible to have a fair election, the NLRB can issue a “bargaining order” requiring your employer to recognize the union.  This is very unlikely.

WHAT IS AN AUTHORIZATION CARD?
It’s a card that shows you want to be represented by a union, and authorizes the UFCW to represent you.  It will also be used as proof to the NLRB, that a majority of employees wish to be represented for the purpose of collective bargaining. Download an authorization card.

BY SIGNING AN AUTHORIZATION CARD, AM I JOINING THE UNION? 

No.  You are simply showing the UFCW and the NLRB that you are interested in being represented by a union.

HOW MANY SIGNATURES DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ELECTION?
The NLRB requires a minimum of 30% to file a request for an election.  The UFCW normally requires 65% before we file a petition, since it takes a majority to win.

WHO SEES THE CARDS AND SIGNATURES?
Only the UFCW and the NLRB will see the signatures.

HOW LONG DOES THE PROCESS TAKE?
The NLRB likes to schedule an election within 42 days after receiving the petition.  The time it takes to file is up to you and your co-workers.

WHO WILL CONDUCT OUR ELECTION?
An agent from the National Labor Relations Board’s office in Georgia will conduct your secret ballot election.  No one, including the Board agent, will ever know how you voted, unless you tell them!

HOW MANY VOTES DOES IT TAKE TO WIN?
A simple majority of the votes cast, that is 50% plus one, of the people who vote.  For example, if 100 employees vote, 51 are needed to win.  Anything less and you lose.

WHO IS ELIGLBLE TO VOTE?
That will be determined in a hearing with the NLRB, your Company and the Union.

CAN MY EMPLOYER HARASS OR FIRE ME FOR SUPPORTING THE UNION?
No!  Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act protects your rights to form, join, or assist in forming a union at your workplace.  The law protects your rights and ensures that you will not be treated disparately for your union activity.  You are allowed to discuss the union while you are on break or off the clock and the person or persons you are discussing the union with are on break or off the clock as well.

WHAT IS COLLECTIVE BARGAINING?
Basically, it’s the process of negotiating a contract after you have voted to form a union.  You, the employees, submit proposals based on what is important to you!  You choose a negotiating committee of your peers and with the union, bargain with management on all working conditions.  This includes wages, job descriptions, insurance and retirement benefits, etc.  When your negotiating committee of peers has reached a tentative agreement, then all bargaining unit employees will vote to accept or reject the contract. 

WOULD MY EMPLOYER BE BOUND BY THE CONTRACT?

Yes, once the contract has been voted on and accepted, this contract becomes a legal document and is protected by the Federal Government.

HOW WOULD A UNION CONTRACT AFFECT MY JOB?
A contract between your employer and you, the employee, would spell out the terms of your employment, what is expected from you, and what you can expect from them.  Right now, your employer is under NO obligation to you.  Job descriptions, wages, benefits, etc. can change at any moment with or without notice. Ga. is an At-Will employment state.  Check your handbook!  With a union contract, these benefits would be guaranteed in writing!  This legally binding agreement provides for a fairer work place, and a more secure lifestyle for you and your family.

WILL WE HAVE THE SAME CONTRACT AS OTHER WORKERS THE UFCW REPRESENTS?

No! Your contract will be designed by you and tailored to you and your co-worker’s specific needs.

WHAT ABOUT STRIKES?
If, during the collective bargaining process, the UFCW and your employer do not reach an agreement, the employees have the option to accept the final offer, attempt to bargain more (usually with a Federal Mediator involved) or vote to strike.  At least 66% (a two-thirds majority) of the employees voting must vote to strike before any further action is taken. 

HOW MUCH ARE UNION DUES?
Union dues are $8.76 to 9.76 per week.  No one will be asked to join the union until … a contract has been negotiated, voted on and accepted by a majority of the employees.

WHAT ARE INITIATION FEES?
The UFCW does not charge initiation fees for anyone going through an organizing campaign.

WHAT ABOUT ANY ADDITIONAL FINES OR ASSESSMENTS?
UFCW Local 1996 has never fined or assessed a member, Period!

OKAY, NOW WHAT?
You’ve got the basics.  Still want to learn more?  Call us with your questions or for any additional information. Your calls are strictly confidential.

Please call Eric Lomax, Organizing Director
1-800-428-2972 or 678-714-3514

The National Labor Relations Board (Ga.) can be reached at (404) 331- 2896 or
www.nlrb.gov for information about union elections.