How Do I Start an Independent Union?

Full Question:

Our Local is currently affiliated with an international union. We are considering a break with the international and establish an independant union. What steps do we need to take to accomplish this? We have been affiliated with the international for six years and are in the first year of a three contract.
12/23/2009   |   Category: Unions   |   State: Virginia   |   #20171


Employees who no longer want a union to represent them are entitled to seek an election to determine if a majority of their coworkers wants to drop the union. Such elections, conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), are called "decertification elections."

Employees who want to vote a union out have to circulate a petition calling for a decertification election. It is recommended not to get assistance from their employer, or else the union can complain that an unfair labor practice has tainted the election. However, outside assistance may be sought. Signatures should be collected on non-work time and in non-work areas. It is important that the names of the union and the company be filled in before any signatures are collected.

The NLRB has a rule that a new union is given one year to represent the workers before a decertification election can be held. Unions that have already negotiated a contract for employees can usually be subjected to a decertification election near the expiration of the contract. Therefore, workers with an old union should start their decertification drive a few months prior to the expiration of their contract to ensure proper timelines are followed.

If at least 30 percent of the workers in the bargaining unit sign the petition, then it must be sent to the NLRB's closest regional office, along with a cover sheet, NLRB Form 502. Once the petitions have been received and verified, the NLRB will set a date for the decertification election, usually about 60 days later. Both sides may campaign for votes. If 50 percent or more of the votes favor decertification, then the NLRB will officially remove the union's recognition as the bargaining representative of the workers.

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