Your Right to Organize

Overview

Your Right to Organize
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.

PUBLIC SCHOOLS & COLLEGES

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. 

Helpful links for teachers and classified employees in public schools

  • California Public Employment Relations Board 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.
  • California Education Code The law that governs public schools and community colleges in California.
  • California Public Employee Relations CPER publishes a bi-monthly journal on public sector labor and employment relations as well as a series of Pocket Guides to collective bargaining statutes and other areas of the law that pertain to California’s public sector workers.

PRIVATE EMPLOYERS

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.

Helpful links for members working for a private sector employer

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Join the Worldwide Fight for Worker Rights!

Here you can find news about labor unions across the nation and the world. You can also 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.

LABOR NEWS

  • 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.
  • LabourStart World labor news with the tagline, “Where trade unionists start their day on the net.”
  • Peoples World Reporting on labor, politics, social justice, the environment and international issues. Sign up for emails to get news updates. 

CALIFORNIA​

NATIONAL

  • 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 is 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 is a national student labor organization fighting for workers’ rights with chapters on more than 150 campuses.

INTERNATIONAL

  • 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 is 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.