Frequently Asked Questions About Organizing

Why do I need a Union?

Most state laws consider most workers “employees at will.” This means that except under very special circumstances, an employer can discharge its workers without a reason and at any time. Employers can also set wages, benefits, and working conditions without any input or involvement from their employees. In other words, management can do or change just about anything it wants, whenever it chooses. When workers form a union, their employer is then obligated under federal law to negotiate wages, hours and conditions of employment with representatives that the workers designate, giving you a stronger voice at work.

How do I form a Union where I work?

Every organizing effort is unique but if you and your co-workers decide to organize and become part of UFCW Local 342, we will work with you to develop a program that is specially tailored to you and your goals.

If you’d like to talk to someone about problems you’re having at work and the ways having a union might help, we are happy to do so. These conversations are strictly confidential and you are under no obligation of any kind to join our Union. You can contact the Local 342 Organizing Department at (866) 802-4994.

Although each organizing effort is unique, most involve talking to coworkers, contacting a Union to help with the process (like UFCW Local 342), encouraging co-workers to officially support a Union, and casting ballots to support a Union. You can learn more about each step, or contact us if you’d like to learn more.

Is it easy to form a Union?

No. It takes the work of employees who are dedicated to helping their co-workers and the active involvement of as many employees as possible. During the weeks before an election, it is very possible that the company will spend thousands of dollars to try and keep you from forming a Union. (You can read more about their tactics on our Obstacles and Challenges page.)

Remember that the Union isn’t some third party coming into your workplace. YOU are the Union! YOU and your co-workers are choosing to unite and bargain for better conditions! And YOU have that right!

Am I protected by law?

The Federal Government and National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) of 1935 guarantee you the right to help organize, join, and support a Union of your choice. This protection extends to activities such as signing Union cards, encouraging others to sign Union cards, passing out Union literature, wearing Union buttons, attending union meetings and more.

Employers are breaking the law if they:

  • Try and find out how the workers feel about a Union
  • Try to identify who has signed cards or who is a Union supporter
  • Try to discover which employees are attending meetings
  • Engage in any other action that prevents you from supporting a Union.

It also means you cannot be penalized because of your union activity or support. You cannot have your overtime cut, be transferred to a less desirable job, or be suspended or discharged. If an employer does any of these things because of your Union activity or support, the law says (in most cases) that you must be reinstated to your former job without loss of seniority, and the employer must pay you for all the lost wages plus interest.

How does a Union work?

A union is a democratic organization of a majority of workers at a company. By joining with fellow employees to form a Union, workers have a greater negotiating position to improve their conditions at work.

Will I have to pay an initiation fee? How much are Union dues?

Newly organized groups will have their initiation fee waived. No employees will have to pay dues until a contract has been voted on and approved. Once that happens, dues will be collected to pay for Union services. These dues vary based on the size of your Union and other factors.

Will the Union make us go on strike?

Strikes are actually very rare. This is because there can only be a strike if a majority of the workers at your company vote to go on strike. Strikes get a lot of attention and are often used as scare tactics, but the truth is that over 97% of all union contracts are negotiated without a strike.

Can I get fired for helping the Union or for attending a Union meeting?

It is illegal for you to be fired, punished, or harassed for attending union meetings or for supporting the union. The law protects your right to improve your working conditions.

Does the company have to negotiate if we vote to join a Union?

Yes! The law requires the company to bargain “in good faith” with the Union and the committee that the employees elect to secure a contract. If your boss says that the company will never bargain with the Union even if the majority of you vote "yes,” they are breaking the law. To protect your rights, report violations to your Union Representative immediately.

Will my company or facility close if we vote to join a Union?

It is illegal for an employer to threaten to close a facility to avoid a Union. Companies often threaten to do this to scare their employees and to avoid organizing campaigns.

The Union does not want to put your company out of business. What good would that do? The UFCW even publishes “Shop Union” guides to promote our Union facilities and the products we help produce.