How to Change Labor Unions

By Philip Rodney Moon
Switching unions requires the votes of the members.

Yes or no tickbox with red yes tick image by mashe from Fotolia.com

Many workplaces are covered by labor unions, which are democratically elected by the workers. Sometimes workers might find their union is not meeting their needs. The workers or local union might decide to affiliate themselves with a different union. Switching unions requires votes to disassociate with the existing union and votes to join another one. The case for the switch must be made directly to the union members. The National Labor Relations Board oversees union elections and will be involved in any votes to switch affiliation.

Removing the Old Union

Talk with union members about their opinion of the union. Switching unions is a major decision that can disrupt the workplace. Make sure there is enough discontent.

Discuss issues with the local union leadership. If the local leadership is upset with the national union it makes voting it out easier. If the leadership supports the old union, you have to go directly to the workers.

Find a new union to join. Not all unions are willing to challenge another union for a workplace. The new union must be willing to back you up with support.

Collect signatures of at least 30 percent of workers for a petition of decertification. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) requires 30 percent before an election can be called to change the union. If the workplace is currently covered by a collective bargaining agreement, petitions can only be turned in between 60 and 90 days before the expiration of the agreement.

Set up a vote with the NLRB. The NLRB will set the terms and operate the election. Monitor the election and make the case to the employees for decertifying the union.

Voting In a New Labor Union

File a petition for certification for the new union. This should be done at the same time as the petition for decertification of the other union. The petition must have support and signatures of 30 percent of the workforce.

Arrange to have the election of a new union occur at the same time or close to the time of the decertification vote. This allows the workforce to quickly transition from one union to another.

Select the leadership for the new union. If the vote favors the new union, setting up local leadership and stewards is key to getting the new union in a position to bargain for the workers.

Collectively bargain with the employer and win the best agreement for the workforce. This will ensure member confidence in the union.

About the Author

Philip Rodney Moon has been writing since 2004. His work has appeared in Cracked, The Art of Manliness, "The Spartan Weekly" and Spartanedge. Moon has a Bachelor of Arts in telecommunication, information studies and media. He graduated from Michigan State University in 2009.

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