Two of the largest unions are the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and the Change to Win Coalition (CTWC). The AFL-CIO reports that as of 2008 over 16 million people were union members. Unions are organized by employees and contractors. Teachers, artists, health care workers, athletes and manufacturing employees are just a few examples of jobs that are unionized.
Locate the right union. Contact large union federations like the AFL-CIO or CTWC. You can also contact your state or local union to review existing groups and discover which organization is right for you. For example, if you are a construction worker, you might consider joining the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers or the Laborers’ International Union of North America. Speak with union staff members and ask about group and individual benefits and the best way to join.
Understand your membership rights. Most employees and contractors are legally eligible to form a union. Some employees in supervisor or managerial positions might be ineligible to receive union benefits. Before joining or forming a union employees are encouraged to connect with existing unions so that they can receive leadership advice, direction and guidance.
Contact a local organizer by completing a request form at AFL-CIO, CTWC or another large union federation website. Provide your name, mailing address, telephone number and email address. Indicate the name of the company where you work, the type of industry the company is in and the approximate number of employees working at the firm. Your information will be sent to a local union organizer.
Complete required training if you are joining a manufacturing union like the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). Contact the membership development director at your local union. Submit required pay stubs and payroll reports to confirm that you have worked the mandatory minimum hours, which is generally 8,000 work hours, before you join the union.
Fill out and submit the union application. Some unions like the IBEW require you to attend a union hall meeting. At the meeting, you will answer questions about your work experience and training. Submit an official copy of your industry licenses at the meeting. If you have not yet passed industry licensing examinations, schedule a test through your local union. After you gain your license, consider setting up your payroll check so that union membership dues are automatically deducted from your check.