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When should one consider unionizing in the US?

In the U.S., the Hostess liquidation has captured the public's attention. While many will miss 'Twinkies', others are trying to make sense of Hostess' need to liquidate.

People who have followed this story know that tensions with the Bakers union ultimately triggered Hostess' liquidation. And that led me to wonder: If you set aside the specific issues involved in the Hostess situation, more generally speaking, when should a worker "risk it all" and form a union to represent the collective interests of a company's workers? Should it be a move of last resort? Or should it be a move of first resort?

There's no question that your view of globalization and economics will color your answer to this question, but I think that many people around the world need some general guidelines when trying to collectively bargain with management.


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I'd consider some research first in trying to form a union:

  1. What are the labor laws of your jurisdiction and are there unions that already exist that may assist in forming a new union?
  2. What working conditions are the cause of the fight to form a union rather than remain individual workers?
  3. What are the barriers to entry for replacement workers in this field? If the barrier is sufficiently low, a union may not work as unemployed people may come in to take over the jobs.

I wouldn't think of it as a first resort or last resort but rather consider what interest is there among the workers to form a union as there will be quite a bit of work as well as agreements to be set up.

Just as a matter of disclosure, I'm currently in a union and some of my immediate family have worked in unions so I do have some familiarity with it.

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