Arkansas AFL-CIO

How to Form a Union

Here are three steps that will get you started.

STEP ONE: Know Your Rights

It is hereby declared to be the policy of the United States to...encourag[e] the practice and procedure of collective bargaining and [to] protect...the exercise by workers of full freedom of association, self-organization and designation of representatives of their own choosing, for the purpose of negotiating the terms and conditions of their employment or other mutual aid or protection.
—National Labor Relations Act

Federal and state laws guarantee the right to form unions! Eligible employees have the right to express their views on unions, to talk with their co-workers about their interest in forming a union, to wear union buttons, to attend union meetings and in many other ways to exercise their constitutional rights to freedom of speech and freedom of association.*

Despite these laws, many employers strongly resist their employees' efforts to gain a voice at work through unionization. So, before you start talking union where you work, get in touch with a union that will help you organize.

*Supervisors and a few other kinds of employees customarily are excluded from coverage. For more information, see specific laws covering your position or contact a union organizer as described below.

STEP TWO: Find Out Which Union is Right for You

To form a union on the job, you need the backup and hands-on help from the union you are seeking to join. If you don't already know which union is most able to help you, find out more about the unions affiliated with the AFL-CIO by visiting their websites. Many of these websites enable you to contact the right person there directly to help you form a union.

In communities across the country, the AFL-CIO has local and state councils where unions come together to work toward common goals. To find out about union activity in your community, feel free to call or email us.

STEP THREE: Get in Touch with a Union Organizer

Union organizers assist employees in forming unions on the job to give them the same opportunity for dignity and respect, good wages and decent working conditions that union members already have. To get in touch with a union organizer, complete this form. The completed form will be forwarded automatically to an organizer at the union you choose. It will not be transmitted or disclosed otherwise.

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