Are you a Pennsylvania public employee or a nonprofit worker looking to form a union at your workplace?

Team Photo

The right for private-sector employees to organize was established by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) of 1935. That Act also established the federal National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which protects workers’ rights to organize and form unions. However, the NLRA’s provisions do not extend to public sector workers.

States determine whether public employees may organize and form unions. In Pennsylvania, the Public Employees Relations Act of 1970 (PERA) allows public employees such as county, municipal, and state employees to form a union and collectively bargain for better wages, benefits, and workplace safety. Similar to the NLRA, PERA

As per Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board Here are the steps workers must take, according to the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board:

  • Before holding an official vote, 30 % of the workforce must agree to form a union
  • Employees must notify the employer that 30% of the bargaining unit wants to vote to form a union. If the employer agrees, employees must request a collective bargaining election that includes a description of the unit and how they determined 30% of employees are interested.
  • If the employer does not agree to collective bargaining, the employees can file a petition with the PLRB stating 30% of the workforce wants to form a union. The board will investigate, and if it is appropriate, the PLRB can order the election.
  • Once the PLRB approves the election, a notice for the election time and place is posted.
  • The vote will take place by secret ballot, and a majority of the workers need to vote yes to form a union in the workplace.

Even though the law allows workers to join and form a union, there is usually considerable pushback from management in almost all union organizing campaigns. The Economic Policy Institute reported that companies spend millions of dollars on anti-union law firms to stop their employees from union organizing. Employers post anti-union signs in the workplace and have management talk to employees and tell them they do not form a union.

Staff at the news organization Fusion faced pushback from their employer when organizing to join the Writers Guild of America Union. Management sent a letter to employees, discouraging them from unionizing. Fusion staff did not give up; instead, they continued to organize and held meetings with staff to answer questions they had. Fusion staff kept fighting for a union, and when they held a vote, over 90 % of eligible staff voted yes.

When workers join together and decide to form a union, they vote for a seat at the table. They are demanding better working conditions, including benefits, a salary increase, and safer working conditions. Unionizing gives workers a voice. Through labor-management meetings, they can discuss solutions to problems that arise in the workplace. A campaign to unionize a worksite is not an easy task. Management would not pay millions of dollars to silence union campaigns if collective bargaining wasn’t powerful. Employees are stronger together, and a union campaign is hard work, but it is worth it.

The first step to forming a union is discussing the benefits of collective bargaining with your co-workers. Make sure you do not discuss unionizing on work time. It is best to have these discussions on breaks and outside work time. You can reach out to a union organizer to help get started. You can fill out this confidential form, and one of our union organizers will reach out to you. They will give you the tools you need to talk to


Comments about Are you a Pennsylvania public employee or a nonprofit worker looking to form a union at your workplace? are welcome. Off-topic comments and other violations of our community guidelines may be withheld or removed. Comments do not appear immediately after posting.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.