Updated Jan. 12

Process to join a labor union

There are a number of steps to joining an existing bargaining unit. The entire process is overseen by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).  The goal is for Field Service Representatives (FSRs) to vote to join the SPEEA Professional bargaining unit.


Steps to join a union

Employee education - The process to join or form a union starts with employees talking to each other about issues at work, speaking with SPEEA staff, members and other FSRs involved and deciding to take steps to gain a stronger voice at work.

Authorization cards - Employees sign union authorization cards to show a commitment to vote 'Yes' in a union election and to be represented by SPEEA.

Signing an authorization card is confidential.  Cards are delivered directly to the NLRB. The company is not allowed to see signed authorization cards.

File for a union election - Once a super majority of employees in the proposed bargaining unit sign cards showing a commitment to join SPEEA, the cards and a petition for election are delivered to NLRB. FSRs delivered our cards and peition to the NLRB Seattle Region 19 office on Jan. 3. 


Our petition asks for "Armour/Globe" election, a common way for employees to join an existing union bargaining unit, rather than create a new bargaining unit and negotiate a new contract. Boeing Facility engineers used the Armour/Globe process in 1999 to join the SPEEA Professional Unit. The written decision from that NLRB hearing calling for an Amour/Globe election is available from the link below.


Read the FSR petition to the NLRB seeking an election to join SPEEA-IFPTE Local 2001


Read the NLRB 1999 decision for an "Amour/Globe" election for Facility engineers to join SPEEA



The NLRB process - The NLRB is a neutral third party. The NLRB requests a list of employees in the proposed group/unit from Boeing. The NLRB then compares the cards to the list to determine if there is sufficient showing of interest (30% required).


    • Appropriate bargaining unit - Labor union bargaining units are made up of employees who hold similar jobs and work descriptions sharing a community of interest with each other.
    • Hearing - If the employer challenges the makeup of the proposed bargaining group/unit, the NLRB holds a hearing with the company and union.   The NLRB determines the appropriate bargaining unit. These are the employees who vote in the certification election.
    • Election date set - Once the appropriate bargaining unit is determined, the NLRB sets a date and time for the election.

Election held - The NLRB holds a certification election for employees to vote on joining the union. A simple majority of employees voting is needed for the employees to become union represented.

Union recognition - Employees are now working together with a stronger voice at work. The employer is required by law to recognize the union and use the collective bargaining process to negotiate a legally-binding contract. 


The length of time from the start of the process to employees becoming union represented depends on many factors. Among these are how long it takes to gather enough authorization cards and whether the company accepts the employees' choice to organize or tries to delay and discourage employees from joining a union.