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Raising Workplace Standards, Together.


People form unions because they want to make positive changes in their workplace. A union is a nonprofit employee organization—protected by law—that helps workers speak up in a unified voice for workplace improvements. By forming a union, employees can come together to bargain a legally-binding contract that ensures workers are treated fairly and that they have the tools they need to thrive—like a living wage, secure benefits, and a voice at the decision-making table.


Equitable Pay

By working together, staff are able to negotiate higher wages and ensure that all employees are being paid fairly.

A Voice on the Job

Staff who form unions are given a seat at the table so that their perspectives help drive workplace decisions.

Work-Life Balance

By bargaining for improvements like flexible working hours and sustainable workloads, union encourage work-life balance.

Secure Benefits

Collective bargaining agreements lock in the benefits you love—so that they can’t be changed without your consent—and allow you to fight for the benefits you deserve.

Career Development

Through their unions, staff can craft sensible pathways to promotion and can also secure funding for professional development.

Issues That Are Important to You

Each workplace’s priorities are different. Our members have bargained for mechanisms to strengthen diversity and inclusion, subsidized transportation, consistent training, student debt repayment, and more.

How to Form a Union

People form unions because they want to make positive changes and gain protections in their workplace. Although work settings and issues vary, you can count on these 5 basic steps to create a union where you work. Remember that every step of the way, your right to form a union is protected under US law. Are you ready to get started?

Step 1: Talk to Coworkers / Gather Information

What are the issues facing your coworkers? Any common themes? Approach trusted colleagues to talk about the idea and collect personal contact information. Contact a Local 8 organizer with any questions.

Step 2: Form the Organizing Committee

The Organizing Committee educates coworkers about what forming a union means, motivates coworkers to take action with confidence, identifies common workplace issues and helps plan how to build a union in your workplace. You will want the Organizing Committee to be representative of the whole workplace so you can communicate with all coworkers.

Step 3: Build Majority Support

Once your Organizing Committee is in place and you have a good plan, you’re ready to take action and make your efforts public by talking to all your coworkers to make sure everyone has an opportunity to have their questions answered. Cards or petitions are signed to show support for having a union.

Step 4: Make Your Union "Official"

When you can show a strong majority support for creating a union, you can request a secret ballot election conducted by a neutral government agency, and/or request your employer voluntarily recognize your union. OPEIU Local 8 organizing staff can help you decide which method might be best for your situation.

Step 5: Win a Strong Union Contract

Once your union is officially certified, it’s time to bargain a strong contract. You and your coworkers will elect a negotiating team and decide what changes and improvements you want to see. The final agreement will be ratified by a vote by union members before it’s put into place. You can count on OPEIU staff to provide support every step of the way.

Contact our organizer to learn more.

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Frequently Asked Questions

A union is a group of workers who come together to bargain over important aspects of their employment like wages, benefits, and other working conditions. Unions allow staff to meet with management on a level playing field in order to make their workplace more fair and transparent. The right for unions to bargain is protected by US law, and employees who are in the process of forming a union are too. ​

If a large majority of co-workers show support by signing cards (or a petition), a request can be made to the National Labor Relations Board to conduct a secret ballot election. Alongside wages and benefits, our members have negotiated contract language around diversity and inclusion, paid days off after a traumatic event at work, consistent, accessible training, subsidized transportation or parking, and more

Bargaining unit members will work together with management to create a contract, or a collective bargaining agreement, that makes sense for their workplace. Alongside wages and benefits, our members have codified policies around diversity and inclusion, staff well-being, and professional development opportunities.
You do—unions consist solely of the eligible employees in your workplace. Once you’ve formed a union, bargaining unit members will elect employees who will work with management to resolve issues, propose workplace changes, and collaborate on other workplace issues. Unions are truly democracy at work.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), or Public Employees Relations Commission (PERC) for public employees, enforce employees’ legal right to form a union and protects them from retaliation. You also have the right to talk about the union at work when other non-work related talk is allowed or during non-work times such as breaks, meal times, or before or after work. It is against the law for your employer to ask you about your union activity or to threaten, harass, fire, discipline or discriminate against you because of union activity. When workers organize with OPEIU they can depend on support and back up if needed.


Most employers, even good ones, feel threatened when they find out employees want to share some power. Most will try to convince you not to form a union by using a variety of tactics designed to create doubt. However, we know that workplaces are actually stronger and more effective with a union. When staff are given respect at work, a living wage, and a seat at the table when decisions are made impacting the communities they serve, they’re able to focus their energy on their work and are less likely to leave for other opportunities.


No one pays any dues until after your first contract is negotiated, voted on and approved by you and your coworkers. You get to see the results before paying any dues. The members decide the dues structure. Since 1994, the member-voted dues rate has been 1.5% of gross monthly salary – an easy way to figure this if $7.50 for every $500. There are no initiation fees for newly organized groups coming into the union. There are no other fees or assessments of any kind.


OPEIU Local 8 is a non-profit employee organization that operates solely from member dues. The members decide how dues are spent and the budget is approved annually at Membership Assemblies. Dues are used to: Negotiate strong contracts, defend members and enforce contract rights, organize new members to improve bargaining strength in existing workplaces and to improve standards in a particular industry, train and support union activists, push for laws to protect and expand workers’ rights on the job, keep members informed through newsletters, union publications and the website, and provide educational opportunities for union members. No dues money is spend on political candidates; Local 8 has a separate voluntary Political Action Committee members can participate in and contribute to as they wish.

Many people think that strikes happen frequently when you are in a union, and there are misconceptions about how strikes get started in the first place. In reality, strikes are rare. OPEIU settles over 99% of its contracts without ever going on strike. Plus, there could only be a strike where you work if the vast majority of you and your colleagues voted to do so. ​

Join the Movement.

Union noun \yün-yən\
A union is a non-profit, employee organization – protected by law – where workers join together to improve and safeguard their wages, benefits and working conditions. A union also gives employees a way to achieve respect
and fairness on the job and a stronger voice to impact employer decisions.

How can I get started?

If you’re interested in forming a union, reach out to us to learn more about the process. Local 8 can provide the resources you’ll need to lay the foundation to build a strong union, and they have experience to help you draft a plan that makes sense for you and your coworkers.