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At this point, the organizer should determine the top five or so issues to identify common themes such as lack of respect and dignity; no input with management; unfair, arbitrary treatment or favoritism. Are wages and benefits lower at the workplace than what workers are getting in similar jobs in the same industry? These findings should be written up.
The CWA cautions that although union-organizing activities are legal and protected under the laws of all states, organizers should ensure they only discuss these issues when they are on breaks, off of company premises, or away from designated work areas. It is also strategically advisable to avoid alerting management to the union-organizing activities as long as possible to delay retaliatory anti-union campaigns.
Building a committee.
After determining support for a union exists around key workplace issues, the CWA recommends that the organizer form a committee of co-workers that is representative of the workplace. Building a strong inside organizing committee is critical to building the majority support that is needed to establish the union chapter.
An excellent way to build support for the union chapter is to get workers to sign a public petition supporting the union that states the key issues and goals; however, the CWA recommends that the organizer postpone publication of this petition until a majority of workers have signed on.
Once the key issues have been codified and an organizing committee formed, the CWA provides additional assistance in formalizing the union chapter.
Representatives of CWA will set up a confidential meeting with the organizer and/or organizing committee for this purpose.
Source: Adapted from How to organize a union, 2012
The decision-making process involved in determining whether it is in a group's best interests to join the CWA or not depends on the workplace. The process is described by CWA as follows:
1. At most private employers, workers make the choice through elections overseen by the National Labor Relations Board. Organizers get the union if a majority of the workers voting in the election vote for the union.
2. At some CWA employers, workers make the choice through a process called majority sign up. This is a much shorter way to get a union because the procedure is agreed to in advance between CWA and the employer. These employers also agree to remain neutral.
3. In the public sector, choosing a union depends on geographic location. Some states and localities permit workers to make the choice through majority sign up. Others require a traditional union election, where majority vote decides the question.
4. Airline workers have their own election process that can make it more difficult to form a union. In airline elections, the number of workers voting for the union must constitute the majority of all eligible workers -- including even those who choose not to vote (How to organize a union, 2012).
Finally, the CWA offers a broad array of free publications concerning how to organize a union and respond to management pressures in different languages and some of which are country-specific to facilitate organizing activities (How to organize a union, 2012).
The Communications Workers of America was shown to be one of the fastest-growing unions in the United States, with more than 700,000 current members in 1,200 chartered local unions throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. The CWA's members live in approximately 10,000 communities in North America and Puerto Rico, making it a highly diversified organization. The research was consistent in showing that the CWA has expanded its original focus on the telephone industry to embrace all things communication related, and while other unions languish into obscurity, the CWA is demonstrating how a union can remain relevant and influential in the 21st century workplace.
About us. (2012). Communications Workers of America. Retrieved from http://www.cwa-
Carrell, M.R. & Heavrin, C. (2010). Labor relations and collective bargaining, 9th ed. Pearson.
CWA legislation and politics. (2012). Communications Workers of America. Retrieved from http://www.cwa-union.org/legislation-politics.
How to organize a union. (2012). Communications Workers of America. Retrieved from http://www.cwa-union.org/pages/how_to_organize_a_union.
Manheim, J.B. (2001). The death of a thousand cuts: Corporate campaigns and the attack on the corporation. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
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