In this article, you will learn how to organise for workers' rights as activist. We have collected a series of resources to help you build a labor union and organise impactful protest actions. Together we can fight for better working conditions and fairer wages.
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Labour unions have been playing a vital role in the development of workers' rights for centuries. They provide a means for workers to come together and advocate for our rights, and can be a powerful force for change. With your help, we can make sure that all workers are treated fairly and with respect.
If you are thinking of starting a labour union, or are looking for advice on how to strengthen an existing union, then you have come to the right place. In this article, we will outline the basics of organising a union, and provide some resources to help you get started.
Guides for union organisers
Here are some relevant articles that you can find on Activist Handbook:
- Organise more effectively
- Create a long term strategy
- Avoiding activist burnout
- Communicating a clear message
- Train your members
Organize a "funeral" for worker's rights. This action would involve activists hosting a mock funeral to symbolize the loss of worker's rights and the erosion of the labor movement. This could include a casket, mourners dressed in black, and a procession or procession through a public space. This can be a powerful and emotional way to draw attention to your cause.
Organise a “work-in": This is a tactic where a group of workers occupy their workplace and continue working, but under the terms and conditions set by the workers themselves. This can be a powerful way to demonstrate the value and importance of labor unions, and can also be used to put pressure on employers to improve working conditions and negotiate with unions.
Create a "guerrilla theater" performance: This is a tactic where activists use performance art and theater to draw attention to their cause and engage with the public. For a labor union campaign, this could involve creating a short play or skit that portrays the struggles and challenges faced by workers, and using it to educate and engage with the public.
Host a "solidarity training" event: This could be a public event where union members and supporters come together to learn skills and strategies for building power and solidarity within the labor movement. This could include training in organizing, negotiating, lobbying, and other skills that can help unions be more effective in their campaigns.
Are labor unions effective?
There is no one answer to this question as effectiveness depends on a number of factors, including the specific goals of the union, the industry they are organizing, the country they are operating in, and the overall strength of the labor movement. Additionally, different people may have different opinions on what makes a union effective. Some may argue that unions are most effective when they are able to negotiate strong contracts with good wages and benefits, while others may say that unions are only effective when they are able to win major strikes or engage in other forms of collective action.
How do I join a labor union?
The first step is finding a union that represents the type of worker you are. There are many unions out there, so it may take some research. Once you find the right union, the next step is to reach out and inquire about membership. Each union has their own process for joining, but it generally includes completing an application and paying union dues.
What is my labor union?
There are many labor union organisations throughout the globe, and usually industries also have their own union. But here are a few examples:
- AFL-CIO (United States)
- UNI Global Union (International)
- Confederation of Swedish Enterprise (Sweden)
- Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund (Germany)
- Confédération générale du travail (France)
- The Trades Union Congress (United Kingdom)
- Canadian Labour Congress (Canada)
Should I join a labor union?
There are many reasons to join a labor union. Here are some of the top reasons:
- To have a voice on the job. Unions are the only way workers can have a say in their working conditions, pay, and benefits.
- To earn a better wage. On average, union members earn significantly more than non-union workers.
- To get better benefits. Union members are more likely to have health insurance and pension plans than non-union workers.
- To have job security. Unions protect workers from being fired without just cause.
- To join together with others to make change. Unions give workers the power to negotiate for better conditions and to fight for social and economic justice.
How do I start a labor union?
There is no one answer to this question as the process for starting a labor union can vary depending on the country and the type of union. However, some tips on how to start a labor union may include:
- Research the laws and regulations regarding labor unions in your country. This will help you determine what is required in order to form a union and how to operate within the legal framework.
- Find like-minded individuals who are interested in forming a union. This may involve reaching out to potential members through social media, flyers, or word-of-mouth.
- Draft a constitution or set of bylaws for your union. This document should outline the purpose of the union, the membership requirements, and the rules and regulations for how the union will operate.
- File the appropriate paperwork with the government to officially register your union.
- Once the union is established, start recruiting members and working towards your goals.
How to contribute
You can make this article better. Right now, we are mostly just referring to articles for activists in general. This could be improved by adding some information to this article that is specifically about labor unions. For example, add some info about:
- History of labor unions: have they been effective in the past? How to replicate successes?
- Laws in your country regarding workers rights and labor unions
- Labor Notes
- IWW Organizing Manual
- The Tech Worker Handbook: Resources about unionising in the tech sector.
- The International Handbook of Labour Unions by Gregor Gall, Adrian Wilkinson and Richard Hurd (2013)
- International Handbook of Trade Unions by John T. Addison Claus Schnabel (2005)
- International Labour Organisation
- Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell): My Decade Fighting for the Labor Movement by Jane McAlevey
- Want to Win a Union at Work? Here’s What the Amazon Labor Union Can Teach Us by Andrew Willis Garcés (2022)
- Organising Work (Also available in French)
We used OpenAI to come up with some creative action ideas.