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|Half a Million and Counting|
In these tough economic times, workers need more opportunities to get ahead – that’s why unions matter and why workers across the country are seeking to form them today. Since 2003, more than half a million Americans formed unions through majority sign-up, an efficient, fair and democratic union organizing process where employers recognize unions if a majority of employees demonstrate their desire to form one.1
Who’s Using Majority Sign-Up
Majority sign-up has given hundreds of thousands of workers access to a stronger voice, better wages, and improved health care. They come from diverse professions, regions, and successful companies in the United States, including:
Building on a Fair and Direct Process
Too often, irresponsible corporations call the shots. They get to decide how their workers choose to form unions through a management-dominated union election process. And when workers try and form unions to improve their lives, they’re often met with harassment and resistance, dragging on the election process indefinitely and repeatedly breaking the law. That’s why majority sign-up is so critical – it helps level the playing field and offers workers a more fair and direct path to form unions.2
Both employees and employers who have used the majority sign-up process are singing praises on its attributes. One solid example can be found at AT&T. The wireless division of AT&T negotiated its first contract with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) in 2000 using majority sign-up. Bothparties took an additional step of creating a voluntary code of conduct to help create a level playing field during the union organizing process by prohibiting disparaging treatment of one another and banning the use of intimidating and coercive tactics on employees.
The result has been effective – both parties serve as business partners, advancing a cooperative labor relations model in direct contrast to hostile relationships that so often pit employers against unions during organizing drives. Given a free and fair chance to make an informed decision, a significant number of wireless workers across the country elected to form unions. To date, 21,000 AT&T employees have chosen union representation through majority sign-up.
A Growing Alternative
Just as states are at the forefront of tackling problems concerning health coverage and global warming, they are also at the forefront of legislation that seeks to truly give workers a free choice. There are now 22 laws in 12 states that grant certain public and private employees the right to form unions through the majority sign-up process.3 These states are laboratories for public policy, showing that majority sign-up works and is a proven and widely-used process.
Federal Reform Needed
While many states and cutting-edge companies have adopted majority sign-up with great success as an alternative to outdated union recognition systems, the vast majority of America’s workers are denied the fair and democratic process that majority sign-up provides. State laws granting majority sign-up rights typically just cover public employees, and private employees must rely on their employer to voluntarily agree to recognize their union through this process. National labor policy needs to catch up to this innovation in states and the private sector. That’s why passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, which would extend this right to millions of Americans, is so vital. Majority sign-up has already allowed half a million Americans to join unions in the past five years – many more workers have used this method than those who have organized through the National Labor Relations Board election process during the same period.4 Millions more stand to benefit if our laws are changed to reflect the wishes of America’s workers who want union representation to improve their wages, benefits, and secure a brighter future for their families.
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1 From January 2003 to April 2008, over half of a million American workers organized through the majority sign-up process. This number was derived from press accounts, union websites, and from data provided to American Rights at Work by the following unions: AFSCME, AFT, CWA, FLOC, IAMAW, IBEW, IBT, IFPTE, SEIU, UAW, UFW, UNITE HERE, and USW.
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American Rights at Work is a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to promoting the freedom of workers to organize unions and bargain collectively with employers.