Organizing @ Work

This is a guide to planning and executing an effective union drive at your workplace and building solidarity with your co-workers.Feel free to print and share this page.

Updated: 10/26/2023


In her book 'No Shortcuts', Jane McAlevey argues that workers can only win significant gains through deep organizing, which she defines as "a process of building power and solidarity among workers to improve their working conditions and lives." She outlines a seven-step process for deep organizing:

A Step-by-Step

1. Identify the issues that matter most to you and your co-workers. What are the biggest problems you face at work? What would they like to change?2. Build a team of leaders. This team should be composed of workers from all levels of the organization who are committed to fighting for change.3. Develop a plan of action. What specific demands do you want to win? How will you achieve them?4. Educate and mobilize workers. This involves teaching each other about your rights and how to organize, and getting them involved in the campaign.5. Take action: This could involve distributing flyers, attending meetings or direct actions like strikes, protests, boycotts, and other forms of pressure.6. Win concrete demands. The goal of deep organizing is to win real improvements in the lives of workers. Aim for supermajorities.7. Build a lasting organization. This means creating a structure that can continue to represent workers and fight for their interests.Back to top

More tips

Be prepared to face resistance from your employer. Employers will often try to stop workers from organizing, so it is important to be prepared for this. This may involve developing strategies for dealing with anti-union propaganda and threats of retaliation.Don't be afraid to fail. Organizing is a long-term process, and there will be setbacks along the way. It is important to learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward.Build relationships with other unions and community organizations. Solidarity is essential for the success of any organizing campaign. By doing this, workers can access resources and support that they would not be able to get on their own.Use technology to your advantage. Technology can be a powerful tool for organizing workers. Social media, email, and text messaging can all be used to reach workers and mobilize them to take action.Back to top

Union certification

  • Contact a union organizer. Union organizers can help you and your co-workers learn about the benefits of unionization and develop a plan to organize your workplace.

  • Sign union cards. Once you've decided to unionize, you and your co-workers will need to sign union cards. These cards authorize the union to represent you in negotiations with your employer.

  • Apply for certification. When at least 50% of the workers in your bargaining unit have signed union cards, the union can apply to the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) for certification.

  • Vote on certification. The OLRB will then hold a secret ballot vote to determine whether the majority of workers want to be represented by the union. If the vote is in favor, the union will be certified.

  • Negotiate a collective agreement. Once the union is certified, it will begin negotiating a collective agreement with your employer. This agreement will set out your wages, benefits, working conditions, and other rights.

List of Unions
To join a union in Ontario, Canada, workers must:
-Be employed in Ontario, either full-time or part-time.
-Be at least 16 years old.
-Not be a manager or supervisor.
Some unions may have additional requirements, such as a minimum length of employment or membership in a specific professional association.For a list of unions and labour associations in Canada, click here.Back to top

Lastly:Keep it confidential. It's important to keep your union organizing efforts confidential until you have at least 40% of the workers in your bargaining unit signed up. This will help prevent your employer from interfering with the process.Be prepared. If your employer tries to stop you from unionizing, you have the right to file a complaint with the OLRB. Have solidarity with your coworkers and be patient with one another.Back to top

Remember: Your employer is prohibited by law from telling you not to unionize.

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