Organizing Basics

Workers are fighting for and winning personal protective equipment (PPE), additional sick leave, hazard pay, and in some cases forcing their employers to temporarily shut down until it’s safe to return. See these steps for organizing your workplace and talk with an organizer about making a plan.

Thanks to the United Electrical workers union for this material.

Your Right to Fight for a Better Workplace

Unfortunately, some employers are putting short-term profits over the health of workers. If your employer is ignoring your demands for protections from Coronavirus, you and your coworkers need to take action to protect yourselves.

As individual workers, we have no power, but when we act together with our coworkers, we can make our boss listen to us. But before you take action, it’s important to know your rights.

Five Steps to Organizing for Protection at Work

Do you and your coworkers need more protection or hazard pay? Should your workplace be shut down in order to protect employees? You can take action with your coworkers to make these changes. Here are five steps to winning workplace fights during a pandemic.

1

Talk with Your Coworkers

Sometimes, your boss does something that makes everyone furious. When this happens, your coworkers usually won’t need much convincing that it’s time to come together and take action. You’ll need to

  1. Form a group (an “organizing committee”) that can help move things forward across the workplace
  2. Decide what you want (your demands)
  3. Make a plan to win your demands

To do this, you need to talk with your coworkers.

2

Joining Together with Your Coworkers

So you have a serious complaint about how your employer is acting. You’re rightfully angry, but what’s your next move? Whatever strategy you use to tackle the issues in your workplace, there is one thing you should always remember: don’t go it alone. Any effort to improve your workplace will only be successful if you and your coworkers are organized. Here’s how to form an organizing committee.

3

Identify a Set of Demands

Right now, workers are bearing the brunt of the impact of this public health emergency. Even if you don’t have a union, you can come together with your coworkers to demand that your employer protect workers and address urgent concerns related to Coronavirus. Here are some ideas on what to demand of your employer.

4

Prepare for What Your Boss Might Say and Do

When you present your demands and take action, the boss may respond in a number of ways that try to minimize the need for changes or may even illegally retaliate against workers. It’s important to inoculate your coworkers for various scenarios so you’ll be able to respond collectively and effectively.

Contact your EWOC organizer to help prepare yourself and your coworkers for reactions from the boss.

5

Present Your Demands and Take Action to Win Them

You’ve been talking to your coworkers and you’ve decided that it’s time to take action. It’s important that you make sure you put together a group of workers who are committed to see this action through, and that this group is representative of your workplace (shifts, departments, gender, race, nationality, etc). This group will be your organizing committee, and it should be made up of leaders in their departments, meaning that they are good workers, people respect them, and that they are well liked. Here’s how to develop a strategy for presenting demands and taking action to win them.