Organize Your Workplace

All too often employers treat their employees unfairly. When workers want respect and voice in the workplace, they need to join together to form a union.

Local 73 members have won concrete changes in their workplaces. By joining together our members have won:

  • A strong voice in the workplace
  • Fair grievance procedures
  • Wage increases
  • Benefit improvements
  • Better staffing levels
See why these workers joined Local 73.

Choosing Local 73 is the first step to success for many public service employees. You gain the support of more than 31,000 members in Illinois and Indiana as well as 2 million members united by the belief in the dignity and worth of workers and the services they provide and dedicated to improving the lives of workers and their families and creating a more just and humane society.

Why form a union?
The Union Difference
How does organizing work?
How long does the process take?
Why do we pay dues and when do we start?
What happens to my dues?
Know your rights

Why form a union?

Employees can solve problems at work more effectively as a group.  Through forming a union and negotiating a contract, employees can secure the things they like about their job, and they can make changes in areas that need improvement.

White-collar and blue-collar workers agree: With a union, they have a concrete way to improve their jobs and their lives. Unions get results.

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The Union Difference

With A Union

  • We bargain for better health insurance, 97% of union members have insurance.
  • We have won guaranteed pensions, 68% of union members have pensions.
  • We have rights and protections guaranteed by our contracts. We use our collective power to win for our families and communities.

Without A Union

  • 85% non-union workers have quality health insurance.
  • Only 14% of non-union workers have pensions.
  • Non-union workers are at will employees with few rights and can get fired for no reason.
  • Non-union workers standalone.

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How does organizing work?

Once a strong majority of employees commit to  supporting the union, they approach the Labor Relations Board to have an election. After a majority of employees vote yes, management will be legally obligated to negotiate as equals with employees over wages, benefits and work rules.

In the meantime, you will form a committee of your co-workers to represent you at the bargaining table, along with a professional negotiator from Local 73. The Bargaining Committee will distribute a survey to determine the priorities of the membership for the upcoming negotiations.

Once a tentative contract is reached between the Bargaining Committee and management, the contract will be voted on by all the union members at your workplace. If a majority vote to accept the contract, it will go into effect.

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How long does that process take?

It can vary dramatically.  It depends largely on the employees who are organizing the local: on how much time they can commit to the process, and how quickly they can move through the steps necessary to organize.

The time between starting to organize and holding a successful election typically takes more than a few months and less than a year, but each campaign is unique.  Throughout their effort, the union will provide staff to assist workers who want to organize.

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Why do we pay dues and when do we start?

Dues allow workers to pool our limited resources together to fight for our interests. But you do not begin paying dues until the first contract is signed. You will receive the resources and staff support of the union, for many months before you pay any dues. Your dues are an investment in yourself, your family and your future.

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What happens to my dues?

Your dues pay for a wide range of resources, staff, services and supplies that all exist for one reason: to help members improve their pay, benefits and working conditions. The following are just some of the services your dues pay for:

  • Expert negotiators to help you bargain a strong contract
  • Professional staff representatives to help you solve on-the-job problems
  • Lawyers and legal researchers for work-related legal matters, from contract language to grievance proceedings.
  • Communications professionals who will help communicate your issues to the media, and keep you informed of other workplace struggles throughout the state.
  • Skilled lobbyists working for your interests in Springfield and in Washington D.C.
  • Budget experts who will analyze your employer’s budget and find hidden and wasted funds to pay for your raises and other benefits.
  • Researchers and a computerized data bank of SEIU’s contracts nationwide, to help you find the fact and figures you need in negotiations, hearings and arbitrations
  • Educators to train your local union leaders in how to provide you with strong, effective representation
  • Organizers who work to steadily increase the number of represented employees, strengthening our collective voice in all arenas where important decisions are made about the quality of working people’s lives

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Know your rights

It is your legally protected right to organize and form a union. The National Labor Relations Act clearly states: “Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, to join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.” And the State Labor Relations Act contains similar language to protect state employees.

It is illegal for an employer to stand in the way of employees exercising their rights to organize. Your rights are clear. Management cannot lawfully:

  • Fire, threaten to fire, discriminate against, or punish employees in any way for union activity
  • Bar employees from discussing the union with co-workers during non-working hours
  • Ask employees about the union, union meetings, or any other questions pertaining to the organizing and administration of your union
  • Coerce employees by changing or threatening to change wages, hours of work, shifts, overtime or any other conditions of work

If these rights have been violated at your workplace, please report this immediately via email at

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