Today I again considered forming a union. Retail was hard prepandemic, challenging, fast-paced, with low pay, status, and lack of a consistent schedule. The pandemic was a supercharge to that and made so many reconsider their place in society and how disposable companies made them feel. Many workers quit the industry, but some of us stayed called “essential workers” for a time, but companies mainly virtue signaled their support for us, now it is time to change that.
I have always mused about it. While thinking about the risk and reward ratio, I would think I could lose my job, and I never thought I could win. I would always think about the risk, but things have changed after seeing Chris Smalls win in unionizing an Amazon warehouse; it inspired me. It reminded me the purpose of a union is to be part of something better, a group dedicated to collective action. If the labor market works like all other markets allocating limited resources collective bargaining allows workers to secure more of those resources. I have seen data on how unionized workers, in the aggregate, have better compensation, have better work-life balances, and have better worker protections. I went to the AFL-CIO page, which facilitates union formation, and was shocked by how simple it sounded.
No matter what industry you are in, or the labor law that covers it, the process for forming a union is similar.
- Get together with your co-workers who may share a common interest in organizing a union.
- Talk to a union organizer in order to strategize and to learn the next steps.
- Talk to your co-workers to build support for the union.
- Show that support through an election or a card-check once you have a strong majority.
In an economy with a tight labor market the risk-reward makes it seem worth it, collective bargaining is the only way workers can exert their power to meaningfully improve their lives and workplaces. If they weren’t useful companies would spend money to stop workers from forming them. We have seen how the fight for 15 shifted the debate over workers’ pay, and how the pandemic reminded people about the importance of supporting all workers now we need to act. I plan to continue to learn about labor unions hopefully you will too and maybe form one or go to a meeting. The great resignation needs to be replaced with the next worker revolution and it starts with you.