How do my co-workers and I organize?
You and fellow co-workers should work together to develop a network of nurses on every shift and every unit who also want to organize. Then identify issues and concerns that are happening in your facility and how an MNA contract can address them. Once you build personal relationships and a strong network, we’ll hold informational meetings with an MNA organizer to answer questions.
Once all questions are answered and the majority of your nurses want to organize, you will begin to sign authorization cards, which are official pledges to organize with the Minnesota Nurses Association. (These are NOT membership cards, and the employer will NEVER see them.)
Once the majority of nurses have signed authorization cards, they will be submitted to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which is the federal agency that conducts union elections.
Once the NLRB has certified that you won your election, you and your co-workers will immediately be assigned an MNA Labor Representative to work with you to elect stewards and chairs, build contract proposals, and provide training to start the process of negotiating your first contract. It is illegal for the employer to change any existing practices without bargaining with you first. Unless you are on the negotiating team, you are not responsible for paying dues until your first contract is voted on and approved by a simple majority. The best contracts are won by members who are unified and committed to a high level of participation in their negotiations.
What can I do, and what rights do I have under the law while organizing?
Under the National Labor Relations Act, you have a legal right to:
- Talk to your co-workers about organizing at work as long as you are not in a patient care area;
- Distribute fliers, letters, and other materials on non-work time in non-work areas such as break rooms, locker rooms, and cafeterias;
- Post MNA fliers and letters on general purpose bulletin boards, mailboxes, etc;
- Sign an MNA authorization card and/or attend meetings about organizing.
It is illegal for your employer to discipline you for participating in your right to organize. Employers also cannot require you to share your feelings about organizing with them.
How long will the organizing process take?
Organizing campaigns can last several months to a few years. The organizing timeline is entirely dependent on:
- How fast you want to proceed;
- How large your group is;
- How much support there is;
- How invested everyone is in organizing;
- How coordinated you are;
- If the employer fights you.
Why does my employer oppose unions?
Your employer doesn’t want you to have a union because they want to make unilateral decisions about the terms and conditions of your employment without your input. Terms and conditions of employment include, but are not limited to, an employee’s job responsibilities, work days, hours, breaks, dress code, vacation and sick days, pay, as well as benefits such as health insurance, life insurance, and retirement plans.