Skip to main content

Legal Stuff

Social share icons

Your Rights to Form a Union and the Hoops You Must Jump Through

There are different rules for differents folks depending on where you work. Make sure you know the rules of the game. This includes knowing the process for getting your union certified, who’s covered, the rules of fair play and what happens if someone breaks the law.

  • What type of work do you do? 
  • Government or business?
  • Are you a contractor or an employee?

Do your homework

When you think about all the questions you should ask before you start a campaign, make sure you know the legal process, rights and restrictions that will impact you.


Learn about good organizing practices and the tools that can help you succeed.

Be Prepared

If you want to petition for an election or request card-check, make sure you have developed a representative organizing committeeand that you know who all your co-workers are.

PDF iconBasics on Bargaining Units PDF icon(Spanish version)

think bigger

In order to file for an election, you probably will have to prove a “showing of interest.” Most laws only require 30%. Think bigger. Majority support is one of the components of successful campaigns.

Take advantage of opportunities

Get everyone involved when you file for an election, and connect this to why we are organizing. Have an outreach and communications plan in place.

Details matter

  • What day should the election be? 
  • How many observers? 
  • On-site or mail ballot?

The labor board sets the election after a hearing or stipulated agreement about when, where and how the election is conducted.

PDF iconElection Details: Questions to Ask

Who Can Vote? 

Once you file for an election, you’ll get an “Excelsior list,” which contains all the people who your employer thinks are eligible to vote. Does this list match yours?

PDF iconGot the List--Now What?

Fair Play (or not…)

Employers often try to stop people from organizing a union by coercing workers to not vote for a union. For example, employers may be committing unfair labor practices when they:

  • Threaten someone’s job or benefits.
  • Question workers or spy on union activities.
  • Treat people differently because of an individual’s activism in the union.
  • Give employees a pay increase timed to influence their vote.

PDF iconWhat's a ULP?
PDF iconPros and Cons of Filing ULP Charges

Take advantage of opportunities II

You don’t have a wait for an election to show everyone the benefits of organizing a union. Issue campaigns and contract surveys can be good tools to keep focused on what people care about and what can happen by joining together.

Keep organizing!

Throughout the campaign and election process, continue to talk with people one on one, recruit new leadersand assess your progress. This will help you come up with a plan to make the election processa success.