Washington Alliance of Technology Workers

Communication Workers of America, Local 37083

Organizing: Frequently Asked Questions

WashTech supports organizing at high-tech workplaces throughout Puget Sound. We are building a powerful membership organization to advocate for our rights.

We support localized and democratic decision-making as you build power in the workplace. After coming together as an all-volunteer organization for 8 months, WashTech affiliated with the Communications Workers of America (CWA), an organization of 600,000 other information industry workers. This alliance provides all WashTech members with valuable resources, including legal advice and connections with similar organizations nationwide.

For specific workplace issues, we come together in localized groups. For broader issues, we research public policy and industry trends and work with national and government groups to make sure high-tech workers have a place at the table when decisions are made. We are democratically run and driven by the issues, creativity, and volunteer energy of our membership.

Contact us at (206)726-8580 or e-mail us at to learn more about establishing a WashTech chapter at your company.

What you should know about organizing

Q: Is it legal for high-tech workers to organize?

A: Yes! Under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act of 1947 (NLRA), all workers have "the right to self-organization, to form, to join, or assist labor organizations." Furthermore, the same act states that employers are not allowed to "interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in Section 7.

Q: How do I know that my employer won't retaliate if I join WashTech?

A: First of all, your membership is known only to you until you decide to tell other people. We share no lists outside the organzation. If you do choose to publically declare your membership or your involvement with WashTech, you are protected under federal labor law from any retaliation from your employer.

Q: What are the basic guidelines of our rights to organize at work?

A: Discussing WashTech is one of your fundamental rights under Section 8 of the NLRA. The Supreme Court has stated: "No restrictions may be placed on the employees' right to discuss self-organization among themselves, unless the employer can demonstrate that such a restriction is necessary to maintain production or discipline."

While it should not interfere with work performance, WashTech activity cannot be treated differently than any other non-work related activity. If you are permitted to talk to co-workers about other activities (Girl Scout cookies, the Seattle Mariners, Bumbershoot), you can also discuss WashTech. A reasonable guideline might be to talk about WashTech during your breaks and free-time.

Although laws protecting our right to organize are quite clear, many people still fear retaliation. If you have questions about this, please do call us at (206)726-8580.

Q: Can I discuss how much I make with my co-workers?

A: Discussing your compensation is one of the fundamental rights under the National Labor Relations Act of 1947. Labor courts have said, "It is essential for the full exercise of those rights that employees be able to discuss wages.

Q: Can I distribute WashTech literature among my co-workers?

A: This issue is similar to talking about WashTech. The National Labor Relations Board suggests distributing literature during breaks and free-time and posting literature in non-work areas. For example, posting a WashTech flyer on a company bulletin board and giving brochures to your co-workers during lunch are okay.

Q: Can I discuss WashTech with my co-workers on company e-mail?

A: As a guideline, if it is okay to discuss other personal business such as the Sonics or weekend plans using company e-mail, then it is okay to discuss WashTech. If your company does have an e-mail policy in place stating that e-mail is company property and only can be used for company business, it cannot selectively enforce this policy when labor issues are discussed. A company must uniformly enforce its policies.