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How to Switch Labor Unions

There are many benefits to belonging to a labor union. However, if you find yourself unsatisfied with your union membership, you may be wondering if it's possible to switch to a different union. Read on to learn more about switching labor unions.

Deciding to Change Your Union

There are many reasons why you may feel dissatisfied and might choose to change your union membership. You may feel that union leadership isn't accountable, that your voice is not being heard, or for whatever reason, your needs are not being met in your current union.

The Supreme Court has held that workers have a constitutional right to withdraw or resign from union membership. Union membership is voluntary, and you can withdraw from a union by submitting a written request to your union. The specifics on the withdrawal process varies depending on your union's rules. Speak with your union representative to understand the specific procedure necessary for you to withdraw from the union.

Joining a Different Union

If you want to immediately join another union, you may face challenges depending on your circumstances For example, if you are in a union that's affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organization (AFL-CIO), then the "no raiding" rule applies. This means that no AFL-CIO union can take on a member of another AFL-CIO union for at least a year after the worker leaves his or her previous union.

If this situation applies to you, other options include joining an existing independent union or forming a new union of your own. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait a year before being allowed to join another AFL-CIO union. In weighing the decision to leave, consider if the issues you are facing with your current union would also be present in your new union. Another alternative to leaving your current union is to promote change and reform from within by running for union office.

Decertifying Your Union

If you’re part of a group of workers who are seeking change within your union, there may be another option available to you, known as "decertification." A group of workers with a majority vote can vote a union out of the business, or "decertify" it, and replace it with a different union.

It requires a petition signed by at least 30% of your coworkers and submitted to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to qualify for a decertification election. If a majority of workers vote in favor, the union will be decertified. However, there are some limitations on decertification. For example, you can't bring a motion to decertify a union for one year following the union's certification by the NLRB. Also, if the union and the employer have a collective bargaining agreement, you can't seek a decertification election during the first three years of the agreement. The only exception is a 30-day "window period," which occurs between 90 days before and 60 days between the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement.

Get Legal Help Switching Labor Unions

Making changes within your union or choosing to leave your union is a major decision with many factors to consider. Frequently, unions offer legal representation to their members. However, if you are considering leaving the union, you may instead choose to seek independent legal advice. For legal counsel about changing unions, consider speaking with an experienced labor lawyer in your area.

Next Steps
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