Unions are about workers coming together

Forming a union is the best avenue workers have to ensure they are treated fairly at work.

Across the US, union members earn better wages and benefits than workers who are not unionized. It’s a fact: it makes a difference to have a union at work.

Why join a union?

Nobody should have to put up with unfairness but standing up to management on your own can be difficult. Without a union, management can treat employees arbitrarily. In a unionized workplace, your wages, benefits and working conditions are protected by a legal contract negotiated by your union. If there is a problem at work or improvements you want to see made, your union will have your back and the legal power to do something about it.

Workers in a union benefit from:

A voice at work

Unionized workers have a say about their working conditions and can negotiate improvements.

Enforceable contract

Union members have a legal contract that protects their wages, benefits and rights at work.

Job Security

In a unionized workplace, you can raise concerns without fear. There is formal process to dispute unjust discipline.

Support Network

Workers in a union have the support of professional advocates and legal counsel when there is an issue at work.

The Union Advantage

The data proves there’s value in having a collective voice. Studies have shown that workers in a union are more likely to benefit from:

Better Pay

Better Benefits

Paid Sick Days

How do I join a union?

The most important thing to know is that forming a union is a right protected under the National Labor Relations Act. Joining a union is a democratic and confidential process. 

In simple terms, there are three main steps to forming a union:

1. Get in touch

Connect with us. We will help answer your questions and connect you with the right union. After that, a professional union organizer will help you strategize next steps.

2. Gather support

With the support of an organizer, talk to your co-workers and build support for the union. We need the majority of your co-workers to sign a confidential union card confirming their support. 

3. Vote YES!

In most cases, once a majority of your co-workers have signed a union card, the NLRB will hold a secret ballot vote to form a union at your workplace. Vote “Yes” to form a union!

Once you’ve formed a union, you will choose your workplace leaders, who with the support of your union will negotiate a new contract with the improvements you want to see at work. Your new contract will spell out wages, benefits, working conditions – most importantly, you will have a say in it. 

Questions? Not sure where to start? Get in touch using our contact form. You can also email organize@mlklabor.org or text 206-765-7602.

Connect with a union

There are hundreds of unions in the King County area – over 160 of them are affiliated with MLK Labor.

As King County’s central body of labor organizations, we are well-positioned to help you navigate the process of joining a union: we can help answer your questions, tell you more about the different unions in King County and connect you with the right union for your industry and needs.

We treat inquiries in confidence. Your employer will never know you contacted us.

Contact Form

All information you share with us is kept 100% confidential

Contact Form

All information you share with us is kept 100% confidential

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to questions workers often have about joining a union:

A labor union is an organized group of workers who unite to have a voice on the job and have a say in their working conditions. Labor unions strive to bring fairness to the workplace and the communities where they operate.

Unions are democratic non-profit organizations with leaders elected by the membership every few years. They are governed by clear constitutions, bylaws and other rules that are accessible to and changeable by the membership at regularly held conventions or meetings.

In the workplace, unions bargain with employers and negotiate contracts guided by the needs and wants of workers. Once a contract has been democratically voted in by the membership, it is also a union’s role to enforce it. Unions advocate for workers, defend their rights and keep employers accountable.

Ultimately, unions begin with workers. There are millions of union members in the United States, who know that by standing together they can achieve great things.

MLK Labor is the central body of labor organizations in King County, WA, representing over 160 unions in the area.

We’re affiliated with the National AFL-CIO, the central labor organization in the United States, representing more than 13 million working people.

As the King County labor council, we help connect workers to resources and unions. Get in touch with us to learn more about forming a union at your workplace. Our mission is to build power and strength for all workers.

There is value in having a collective voice at work, and the data proves it. Studies have shown that workers in a union are more likely to benefit from:

  • higher wages (11.2% more than what nonunion workers make)
  • employer-provided health insurance (94% compared to 68%)
  • access to paid sick days (91% compared to 73%);
  • retirement benefits through private employers (82% to 48%); and
  • guaranteed pensions through private employers (54% to 8%).

The union advantage is even greater for people of color, women, immigrants, and others who have confronted workplace discrimination. A union contract provides an assurance that all workers will be treated fairly at work.

There are hundreds of unions in the King County area – over 160 of them are affiliated with MLK Labor. Click here to see a list of our affiliate unions.

Unions vary in size and industry specialization. Connect with us so we can learn more about your situation and connect you with the right union.

The National Labor Relations Act protects the rights of employees to form a union. It is illegal to fire, threaten or discriminate against a worker for their support of a union. Unions will prosecute employers who break the law and try to interfere with your right to unionize. If you are considering organizing your workplace and are hesitant about your employer’s reaction, connect with us in confidence to strategize next steps.

The most important thing to know is that forming a union is a right protected under the National Labor Relations Act. Joining a union is a democratic and confidential process. 

In simple terms, there are three main steps to forming a union:

  1. Get in touch: Connect with us. We will help answer your questions and connect you with the right union. After that, a professional union organizer will help you strategize next steps.
  2. Gather support: With the support of an organizer, talk to your co-workers and build support for the union. We need the majority of your co-workers to sign a confidential union card confirming their support. 

  3. Vote YES!: In most cases, once a majority of your co-workers have signed a union card, the NLRB will hold a secret ballot vote to form a union at your workplace. Vote “Yes” to form a union!

There is no cost to join a union until you vote in your first collective agreement. Once you start benefiting from your new contract, your dues will be no more than a small percentage of your earnings. Due rates vary per job and union – we encourage you to get in touch with us to find out more. Since unions are non-profit organizations, you can be sure everything you invest in your union is spent back in union members. The voice at work, rights and benefits that come with unionization are well worth the small cost associated with joining.

There are hundreds of thousands of union members in King County. There are unionized workers at Boeing, Safeway, Macy’s, the City of Seattle, the Seattle Mariners, Harborview Medical Center, among many other workplaces!

Keep in touch

Sign up to receive MLK Labor updates and keep in touch with the labor community! Learn about campaigns we support and receive event invites. We hold periodic Union Information sessions.

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