How to Organize

Getting Started

The IATSE believes that the best organizers are workers themselves. At every step of the organizing process we emphasize the active participation of the workers seeking union representation. This is essential not only to wining an election, but more importantly, to getting the contract you deserve. The first step is to talk to your co-workers. Do you share common concerns about your jobs? Is your employer unwilling to discuss or rectify your concerns? If so, you will want to gauge the interest of your co-workers in exploring organizing as a means to address your problems. If there is interest, we will send a representative to meet with your group at a location near your workplace. A representative can answer any questions you may have, discuss how to use social media as an effective organizing tool, and what are the next steps to take.


Workers are entitled to know how the organizing process works and what to expect during the campaign.  It is only when everyone understands the commitment involved in successful organizing that we can be confident in their support. Our representatives are fully versed in the laws governing organizing on both the federal and provincial levels. We will make every effort to ensure that you and your co-workers completely understand the process so that you can make a fully informed decision about moving forward. At the same time you will educate the IATSE representative about your employer’s operation so that we can identify as clearly as possible which positions and how many workers are in the bargaining unit we’re trying to organize.

To get started, visit the FAQ page for commonly asked questions and answers.

Authorization Cards

To gauge worker participation, we request that all employees sign Authorization Cards as an indication of their support for the union. These cards do not enroll you in the union, instead they indicate that you would like the IATSE to serve as your bargaining representative. Authorization Cards are completely confidential. Your employer will never know whether you have signed one or not. In fact, it is illegal for them to ask you if you have. If a significant majority of the workers in the bargaining unit sign authorization cards we will file a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) requesting that they conduct a secret ballot election to determine whether a majority wants to be represented by the union in order to negotiate a contract. A simple majority is required to win the election. As an alternative, we can request that the employer voluntarily recognize the union. If the employer voluntarily agrees then we submit the authorization cards to a neutral third party who compares them to an employee list to determine if the union has a majority. This streamlines the process.

The Election Petition

The process for filing a petition to hold an election in order to give the union the right to bargain on your behalf is a bit different in the United States and Canada. Those differences are spelled out on the US Organizing and Canadian Organizing pages on the IATSE website.


Once the union has been determined as your bargaining agent, we will help you form a Bargaining Committee comprised of you and your peers from a variety of positions within the facility. In conjunction with the IATSE representative, the Bargaining Committee will draft contract proposals to submit to the employer at the start of negotiations. The Bargaining Committee will attend all negotiation sessions with the employer. They will advise the IATSE representative how the bargaining unit would like them to respond to employer proposals and what modifications of the union’s proposal are acceptable. The Bargaining Committee will determine when there is a tentative agreement that can be submitted to the entire bargaining unit for a ratification vote.


Once a contract has been ratified and executed, all employees covered by the agreement will be offered the opportunity to join the union as full journey person members with all the right and responsibilities of other members.