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Majority Sign-Up or “Card Check”

Under current law, there is no level playing field when it comes to joining a union. Big corporations hire expensive lawyers to run sophisticated anti-union campaigns. An entire industry of anti-union consultants prey on small employers, convincing them that they should use any means necessary to fight a union organizing drive. Workers are intimidated, threatened, harassed, and even fired for supporting a union. One out of four employers actually fire workers for trying to form a union.

These illegal acts often succeed in discouraging workers from supporting the union, so without real penalties for violators, retaliating against workers is a cost-effective business strategy. In this climate, workers often feel powerless. They fear employer reprisals if they support the union and they lose faith in the process when they see how easy it is for the employer to abuse the rules.

Majority sign-up, or “card check,” is a better way for workers to choose whether or not to join a union. Under majority sign-up, workers have the chance to talk to each other about the union without facing the same kind of employer harassment. Instead of waiting months or even years for an election while the employer runs an anti-union campaign, workers who want a union simply sign cards asking the union to represent them in collective bargaining. This is a fair and democratic process that respects the will of the majority.


How does majority sign-up work?

Majority sign-up, or “card check,” allows workers who want to join a union to sign a card authorizing the union to represent them in collective bargaining. If a majority of workers sign cards, the cards are submitted to the National Labor Relations Board (private sector) or the Public Employment Relations Board (public sector). If the Board finds that the majority of workers want a union, the union is entitled to recognition. In California, public sector employees already have the right to majority sign-up; all workers should be able to organize under this fair and democratic system.


A majority sign-up organizing campaign:

• Step 1: Workers want a voice on the job so they decide to form a union in their workplace.

• Step 2: Workers talk to co-workers about the union and ask co-workers to sign cards if they want a union.

• Step 3: The signed cards are submitted to the state or national labor board to determine if there is valid majority support.

• Step 4: If the board finds that the majority of workers want a union, the union is entitled to recognition.


What are workers doing to win a real right to organize?

States across the country are expanding majority sign-up rights to public employees, while cities and counties regularly incorporate majority sign-up provisions for private sector workers into local development agreements. In the past ten years, eighty percent of new organizing has been done outside of the ineffective and outdated NLRA process. But a piecemeal approach is not enough – we need reform at the national level. The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), which would provide a majority sign-up option and provide real penalties for employers who break the law, was introduced in Congress with bipartisan sponsorship in 2007. As we fight to pass EFCA at the federal level, we must continue to protect and strengthen the right to organize here in California, so that all workers have the opportunity to gain a voice at work.


What really happens during union elections?

• 92% of employers whose workers try to organize force workers to attend anti-union meetings and workers are disciplined or fired for leaving.

• 78% of employers force employees to meet with their supervisor to be interrogated about whether they want a union and asked to reveal which co-workers are union supporters.

• 75% of employers hire union-busting consultants to advise them on how to run an effective anti-union campaign.

• 52% of employers who have undocumented workers threaten to call immigration authorities to deport workers who are trying to organize.

• 51% of employers threaten to close the plant if workers vote for the union.

• 25% of employers actually FIRE at least one worker for supporting the union, even though it is against the law.


Download the Brochure on Majority Sign-up

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