When to Go Public

In a union drive, the organizing committee (OC) can take the campaign public when the following criteria are met.

  1. The committee has reached a super majority of workers. 
  2. The committee has charted the workplace and relationships.
  3. There is a clear message and understanding of the key issues. 
  4. The committee has conducted soft assessments of the workforce.
  5. The committee believes it has enough support (65% or greater) to withstand a strong anti-union campaign. 

Generally, the campaign goes public by collecting signatures on authorization cards or a petition for a union election; if the signatures have been gathered secretly, it goes public by marching on the boss to demand union recognition.

It is a mistake to go public too early with only a partial OC. In those cases, the committee may seem more like a clique than a real leadership group. It takes time, honest assessments, and accountability to make sure the committee is composed of members who are respected by, and representative of, all their peers.

After going public, the committee will need to keep in close contact with everyone to answer questions, counter the misinformation, help overcome fear and intimidation from the boss’s anti-union campaign, and try to neutralize or win over the anti-union workers. The campaign message and actions should be geared toward the weak union supporters and the undecideds — not the strong anti-union workers or the strong union supporters.

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