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Organizing a Union in a Workplace

Updated on August 15, 2016

Develop a flow chart or step-by-step list of the key steps employees must take to form unions. Explain how the union-organizing process works differently in the public sector compared to the private sector. Describe the roles of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) compared to the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA).

Summarize who can join a union and who is excluded; how unions are formed (referencing your flow chart/step-by-step guide above); and why they are formed (citing three or more statistical reasons).

Chart reads:


The union-organizing process works differently in the public sector compared to the private sector. Private-sector unions provide workers with a counterweight to management power in bargaining over compensation which in turn has the potential to lead to reduced investment (What's the difference exactly, 2011). In private sector unions the union leaders bargain for more benefits while recognizing that excesses will force the company to lay off employees or go bankrupt (State Budget Solution, 2011). A public sector union is a union that represents the interests of employees within public sector and in governmental organizations. Public unions do not have to bargain with the taxpayers who pay the bills. When public sector employees go on strike they often have no penalty for their absence, for instance teachers on strike face no penalty for when their absence forces schools to close. In addition the fact that a public sector union has a natural monopoly over government services gives government union leaders extraordinary power over elected officials. The key distinction between the unions in the public and private sector is the fact that private sector unions must respect their employer's bottom line, whereas government unions do not have that same obligation (State Budget Solution, 2011).

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) both have a role in labor relations, though their roles are different. The NLRB works mainly with the private sector; the NLRB administers the National Labor Relations Act through conducting elections to determine if employees want union representation in addition to investigating and remedying unfair labor practices by employers and unions (United States Department of Labor, n.d.). The FLRA is an independent administrative federal agency which is responsible for and administers the labor-management relations program for non-postal federal employees (Federal Labor Relations Authority, n.d.). The FLRA provides leadership in establishing policies as well as offering guidance related to federal-sector labor management disputes on the topics of resolution of disputes and ensuring compliance with the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (United States Department of Labor, n.d.).

Unions are formed when a group of employees from an organizing committee adopt an issues program, sign up a majority on union cards, fill an election petition, and win the election (see The Steps Employees Take to Form Unions chart above for more information). The top statistical reasons that lead employees to form unions are: employees seeking a voice at work, better pay, better treatment, and better benefits (Council 31, n.d.). All employees who are considered a part of the labor force are legally allowed to join or form a union. Managers and supervisors are not protected by the NLRA and are not allowed to join a union nor may they be a part of the bargaining unit; this is because these employees are considered to be part of a company’s management rather than its labor force (Repa, n.d.).


8 Step Process of Forming a Union. (n.d.). Retrieved from


Council 31. (n.d.) Why form a union. Retrieved from


Federal Labor Relations Authority. (n.d.). Introduction to FLRA. Retrieved from

Repa, B. (n.d.). Federal Labor Laws. Retrieved from


State Budget Solutions. (2011, March 23). Differences between private sector unions and

government unions. Retrieved from

United States Department of Labor. (n.d.). Labor Relations. Retrieved from

What's the difference exactly. (2011). Retrieved from



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