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Organizing in US

Forming the Inside Organizing Committee

Every successful organizing drive involves an effective organizing committee made up of the people seeking union representation. This internal group of union supporters helps to educate us about the specific concerns at the studio, as well as any apprehensions there are about moving forward. The committee will be the conduit between the entire crew and us. It is important that the committee represent a good cross-section of the group. It is best when each job classification and department have at least one representative.


IATSE representatives will make every effort to ensure that you and your co-workers completely understand the organizing process so that you can make fully informed decisions at every step. At the same time, you will educate us about your employer’s operation so that we can identify as clearly as possible the number of people in the group and what specific concerns that must be addressed.

The Campaign

Organizing campaigns are made up of meetings and conversations with your colleagues in order to achieve enough support for unionization to move to the next step (for example: filing for a representation election). The measure of sufficient support is through the collection of Authorization Cards. Organizing campaigns vary in length. Some take months, some take years. As long as the group remains actively committed to the effort, the IATSE will be there to support you.

Once an employer knows that an organizing campaign is in place, a counter campaign should be expected. Employer “anti-union” campaigns try to dissuade you from considering unionization by varying methods. With an effective organizing committee and good communication channels, we will be able to quickly refute any misinformation that the employer uses to undermine your support. It is important to anticipate what your employer may do when they find out you are organizing, so that together we can respond quickly and effectively. Always let your union representative know if you feel your employer is attempting to run an anti-union campaign.

What Employers May Not Do

Under Section 8(a) of the National Labor Relations Act, there are a number of actions that your employer and/or supervisors may not engage in, which constitute unfair labor practices (ULPs). These restrictions on the employer's conduct are designed to protect and preserve your right to join a union under Section 7.

Section 8(a)(1) of the NLRA states that the employer may not "Interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed under Section 7."

Examples of these types of violations include:

  1. Threatening to fire for union or concerted activity.
  2. Threatening to demote, reprimand, or punish in any way because of union activity.
  3. Conducting anti-union interrogations.
  4. Threatening to close or move the shop to escape the union.
  5. Threatening loss of benefits if the employees vote for the union.
  6. Promising benefits to employees in return for anti-union.
  7. Interfering with communication among employees or with attempts to organize by such means as unduly restrictive solicitation rules.
  8. Spying on union meetings.
  9. Granting benefits or wage increases timed to defeat union organization.
  10. Refusing to bargain in good faith with the union, once the union wins the election.

If you believe that your employer has committed any of these unfair labor practices, please contact us immediately.

Authorization Cards

Once the organizing committee is formed and discussions with the group have started, we ask that everyone who would be affected by the contract sign Authorization Cards as an indication of their support for unionization. Authorization Cards are a physical manifestation of your desire to be represented by the union. These cards need to be filled out completely and returned to us. Once we receive then, we will store them safely until the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) asks to verify them. The National Labor Relations Board is the agency of the United States Government which protects that right, as well as other important rights guaranteed by the National Labor Relations Act of 1935. 

Authorization Cards are kept completely confidential. We will not disclose who has signed a card to anyone but the NLRB. Your employer will never know whether you have signed one or not. In fact, it is illegal for them to ask you if you have.

If a significant majority of the workers in the bargaining unit sign authorization cards we will file a petition with the NLRB requesting that they conduct a secret ballot election to determine whether the workers want to be represented by the union. A simple majority is required to win the election.

As an alternative, we can request that the employer voluntarily recognize the union and begin bargaining a contract. If the employer voluntarily agrees, then we submit the authorization cards to a neutral third party who compares them to an employee list to determine if the union has a majority. This streamlines the process.

The Election Petition

Once we file the Authorization Cards with the NLRB, the union and the employer need to agree on several elements of the election. This usually involved who is covered by the agreement and therefore can vote in the election. If the union and the employer can’t agree on all the elements of the election, the NLRB will conduct a hearing to explore the areas of disagreement. After the conclusion of the hearing, the NLRB Agent will determine the terms of the election.

The Election

Prior to any election conducted by the NLRB, a Notice of Election will be posted at your work, issued by the NLRB to inform you of:

  • The date, hours, and place of the election,
  • A description of who gets to vote,
  • General rules as to the conduct of elections.

There is a sample ballot on the Notice of Election which, except for color, looks exactly like the ballot you will receive when you vote. You should read the Notice of Election so that you will be familiar with the ballot.

In the voting place there will be a table, a voting booth, and a ballot box. Next to the voting booth there will be observers for the union and the employer and a representative of the NLRB, each of whom will be wearing an official badge. The NLRB Agent is in charge of the election. If you have questions, talk only with the Agent.

Bargaining the Agreement – Negotiations

Once the election determines the crew wants to be represented by the IATSE, the Organizing Committee becomes the Bargaining Committee. In conjunction with IATSE representatives, the Committee will draft a contract proposal to submit to the employer at the start of negotiations. The Bargaining Committee will attend all negotiation sessions with the employer. They will advise the IATSE representatives how the group would like them to respond to any employer proposals and what modifications of the union’s proposal are acceptable. The Bargaining Committee will determine when there is a tentative agreement that can be submitted to the entire group for a ratification vote.


Once a contract has been ratified and executed, all employees covered by the agreement will be offered the opportunity to join the union as full journeyperson members, with all the rights and responsibilities of other members.