The organizing process will vary from workplace to workplace. It might proceed differently at a digital laboratory, for instance, than at a reality television production company. You should consult with a Guild organizer at the outset to figure out what approach will work best for your employer.
After an initial information-gathering phase, organizing entails a series of quiet conversations amongst coworkers and between employees and union organizers. Over the course of these conversations, we assess and build solidarity in order to prepare to move forward together. When there is evidence of strong support for organizing, employees will sign authorization cards, officially designating the union as their representative for the purpose of collective bargaining. The cards are confidential and will never be seen by the employer, but they represent a formal decision each employee makes to pursue collective bargaining in solidarity with her or his colleagues.
Once a strong majority of a given workforce has authorized the union to represent them in collective bargaining, we determine how best to begin the negotiations process. Broadly speaking, there are two paths to the negotiating table: a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election that results in the NLRB certifying the union and ordering the employer to bargain, and so-called “voluntary recognition,” in which an employer agrees to bargain in the absence of NLRB certification. (“Voluntary recognition” is perhaps something of a misnomer, because pressure is sometimes necessary to get an employer to volunteer; we often achieve voluntary recognition and a union contract through work stoppages or the threat of a strike.)
Again, no document can lay out all the factors that determine the course of a successful organizing campaign. If you’re considering organizing a post-production workplace, speak to a Guild organizer. Such conversations are held in strict confidence, and they represent the first step towards making real change on the job.