Your Right to Organize


Your Right to Organize a Union
To form a union, bargain collectively your employer, and have a greater voice at work

If you don’t have a union, you already know the boss can do whatever he or she wants. You really don’t know from one day to the next what could happen to your pay, your job, or even your workplace.

Without a union, you leave all of your rights outside when you walk through the door to work. But you – and the people you work with – can change this. It’s your legal right.

A union gives you the power to make your employer pay a fair wage, provide a decent place to work and a voice in the decisions that affect you. It’s the organization that represents and defends workers from unfair treatment — and it really works.


After numerous attempts starting in the 1950s, the CFT in 1975 introduced and lobbied successfully for passage of the Educational Employment Relations Act (EERA), which gives teachers and classified employees the right to bargain collectively with their public school and community college employers. This landmark legislation became law on January 1, 1976. 

Only three years laters, the CFT lobbied similarly for passage of the Higher Education Employer-Employe Act (HEERA), bringing collective bargaining to university employees. 

  • The California Public Employment Relations Board  is the governmental agency charged with administering and enforcing state collective bargaining statutes covering employees of California’s public schools, colleges, and universities, and other groups of workers.


Educators and support staff who work for private sector employers have the right to organize a union under the National Labor Relations Act, passed by Congress in 1935. The NLRA is a federal law that grants employees the right to form or join unions and engage in protected, concerted activities to address or improve working conditions.

  • The National Labor Relations Board is the federal agency created by the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 that oversees collective bargaining laws in the private sector.

Join the Worldwide Fight for Worker Rights!

world map with workers of all varieties

Join the movement to unionize workers in California, across the nation, and around the world! Get to know the non-governmental organizations advocating every day for the right of workers to form democratic unions, providing resources to workers and their families, and promoting social justice issues.


Unionize California.

  • California Labor Federation 
    Dedicated to promoting and defending the interests of working people and their families for the betterment of California’s communities. Each AFT/CFT local union is affiliated with its regional Central Labor Council and the statewide Labor Federation.
  • Voters Injured at Work 
    Serves injured California workers and their families by providing a voice for changing workers’ compensation laws and educating the public about problems experienced by injured workers.
  • Young Workers’ Health and Safety 
    A resource network that helps prevent California’s young workers from being injured or killed on the job. Includes a resources section for educators



  • Labor Notes 
    National media and organizing project that has been the voice of union activists who want to put the movement back in the labor movement since 1979. Sign up for emails to get labor news and learn about trainings and conferences.


    Building power for more than 12.5 million working people across North America. The CFT is affiliated with the AFT, and through it with the AFL-CIO.
  • Association for Union Democracy 
    The only national, pro-labor, non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the principles and practices of democratic trade unionism in North America
  • Coalition of Labor Union Women 
    A national organization affiliated with the AFL-CIO that offers valuable resources for female unionists.
  • Jobs for Justice 
    Fighting corporate attacks on working people and standing up for our rights as working people to a decent standard of living and to organize and bargain collectively.
  • Labor Project for Working Families 
    Download resources, reports and publications on organizing, bargaining, and advocating for family-friendly workplace programs and policies.
  • United for Respect 
    A multiracial national movement of working people advancing a vision of an economy where corporations respect our work, recognize our humanity, and in which everyone can live and work in dignity. 
  • United Students Against Sweatshops 
    A national student labor organization fighting for workers’ rights with chapters on more than 150 campuses.



  • LabourStart 
    World labor news with the tagline, “Where trade unionists start their day on the net.”


  • AFL-CIO Solidarity Center
    Assists workers across the globe as, together, they fight discrimination, exploitation and the systems that entrench poverty—to achieve shared prosperity in the global economy.
  • Global Unions 
    International trade union organizations working together with a shared commitment to the ideals and principles of the trade union movement.
  • International Labour Organization 
    The ILO is devoted to promoting social justice and internationally recognized human and labor rights.
  • Workers Rights Consortium 
    An independent labor rights organization that conducts investigations of working conditions in factories around the globe with the aim of combatting sweatshops and protecting the rights of workers who make apparel and other products.