how to unionize

5 Steps to Starting a Union

How do you start a labour union at your workplace? It can be done with careful planning, lots of communication, and support from a strong labour organization! Teamsters 987 is here to help you understand the 5 key steps to organizing your co-workers.

These activities should never be done or discussed during working hours or on company time.

Step 1: Discreetly talk to coworkers 

If you want to organize your workplace, make sure your coworkers are on board first. Instead of directly asking if they’re interested in starting a union, listen carefully to their concerns and ideas about what needs improvement at work before introducing the idea of starting a union.

Most workers in Alberta have the right to start a union. However, if management learns about of the plan early on, they may start to push back and make the process more difficult than it needs to be. Therefore, it’s important to keep these early conversations with your coworkers discreet.

Step 2: Contact a union to discuss the next steps

Once you have support from your coworkers to start a union, the next step is to contact a labour union. Labour union organizers are experienced in helping Alberta workers navigate the process of starting a union. They can guide you on what steps to take next and help you assess whether starting a union is the right choice for your workplace. While the decision to start a union is ultimately up to you and your coworkers, contacting a union organizer is a great way to get started.

Teamsters 987 represents more than 5,000 workers from across 10+ industries. Check out the industries Teamsters 987 is currently serving. Don’t see your industry listed? We are always expanding to new industries to provide more support to workers in Alberta; get in touch to learn how we can help you.

Step 3: Create your organizing committee 

Now that you have support from your coworkers and a labour union, it’s time to create your organizing committee. This committee will be responsible for collecting information from their coworkers, noting issues in the workplace that need improvement (such as working conditions and wages), and developing key messages to help gain additional support from employees. It’s important that this committee is as representative as possible of the entire work population. For example, try to have each department represented by at least one committee member.

Once the organizing committee is formed, they are responsible for developing a plan of action and executing it. This may include holding informational meetings, handing out flyers and other information, and engaging in other activities to raise awareness about the union. The organizing committee is an essential part of starting a union.

Step 4: Sign an organizing petition to start a union

At this point in the process, you have been working closely with your union representative. The next step will likely involve getting your coworkers to sign an organizing petition. The signatures from the petition are 100% confidential and your employer will never see them. Once you have enough of your fellow employees’ support, it’s time for an official vote at work on whether to unionize your workplace.

Step 5: Vote on starting a union

If enough people sign the organizing petition, there’s an opportunity for automatic certification and avoiding the vote altogether. But often, there will be a secret ballot vote open to all employees impacted by the decision to unionize. All votes are 100% confidential, meaning employers will have no way to know how each employee has voted. If the majority vote is to unionize, that’s it! The vote becomes a binding agreement if you are considering forming a union at your workplace.


If you’re thinking of starting an Alberta labour union with your coworkers, it’s important to know what the process looks like. Of course, each step can be complicated and there are many details that go into organizing a union.

It’s crucial to arm yourself with information to know how to get started. And remember: you are, without question, allowed to organize your workplace, regardless of where you work.

Considering organizing your workplace? We’ll have your back throughout the process. Contact a Teamsters 987 representative.


What’s next in the process: Securing the Majority Vote


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