How to start forming a Union

Have you ever thought of forming a union? Don’t know where to start?

Pittsburgh DSA is here to help!

Building power

Americans support labor unions at rates not seen in decades. Polls show half of non-union workers — including three in four young workers — would join a union if they had the chance.

Whatever your workplace, there’s a good chance your coworkers share concerns and want to fix the same problems. Together you can organize for power — just as the University of Pittsburgh Faculty, healthcare workers at Planned Parenthood, HCL tech workers, and workers at the Carnegie Libraries and Museums have in recent years. 

First steps to form a Union

  1. Talk to your coworkers. Workers should carefully approach individual coworkers one-on-one — far from eavesdropping bosses — and discuss their shared issues. Learn what your fellow workers care about.
  2. Put together a list of as many coworkers as you can. This will help you launch an organizing committee. Even if your list includes only one pro-union coworker, that’s a start!
  3. Contact Pittsburgh DSA using this form (all information will be kept strictly confidential). Chapter members who’ve organized their own unions can help you in the first key steps.
  4. Read some introductory material. No one book will grant organizing knowledge, but these can help orient you.
  5. Move forward! Once you’re ready to proceed, Pittsburgh DSA members can help you reach out to full-time union organizers. Consider contacting multiple labor unions so you and your coworkers can pick the right affiliate for you (or no affiliate at all!).

Frequently asked questions

Can’t I just openly talk to coworkers about a union?

While the right to organize is legally protected, in practice your boss has tremendous power to interfere. The first steps should be taken quietly, ideally with expert advice.

Why does DSA want to help?

As socialists, we believe working people hold the key to a better society. When we recognize our power and wield it together, we can win victories against inequality, exploitation and oppression.

I have some questions. Who can I talk to? 

Reach out to the Pittsburgh DSA Labor Committee at We’re happy to talk! And if you’re ready to start organizing, fill out this form.

List of reading materials

AFL-CIO “Form a Union” guide

UE: Steps to organize a union

Book: “Secrets of a Successful Organizer” by Labor Notes

Buy it here (or ask us to lend a copy!)

Book: “A Collective Bargain by Jane McAlevey

Book: “No Shortcuts” by Jane McAlevey