A workplace is “officially” union upon winning union recognition. Union recognition means that the company has a legal obligation to bargain a contract. Most media companies have respected their employees’ democratic right to organize and recognized the union after a neutral third party verifies that a majority of employees signed union authorization cards. In a few cases, media companies insisted on an election and attempted to dissuade people from continuing to organize in the lead up to the vote. For example, employees at Group Nine, Slate, Gimlet Media, and Onion, Inc. won union recognition after an online election.
In our case, Hearst rejected our request for voluntary recognition and forced a lengthy NLRB process, even though a strong majority of us already demonstrated support for our union by signing union cards.
After winning recognition or voting online or through the NLRB, employees nominate a union bargaining committee that will negotiate a first contract with the company. A union contract is only in effect after being bargained and voted into place by the employees covered by the union.