Below the (Grass)root

What defines a union isn't the legal structure around it. A union is a group of workers organizing together, regardless of whether or not they're a registered legal entity. If that's not always obvious today, it's because many governments impose daunting-sounding legal requirements for forming a union; for example, in Australia a trade union needs at least 1000 members to be officially recognized. These requirements are the result of decades of lobbying by business owners. It's meant to weaken the power of labour and undermine our ability to build collective power.

Fortunately, we don't need to follow these rules to start organizing! And you definitely don't need your whole industry or your whole workplace on board to start changing things for the better. You can start by talking to your coworkers — off the clock, in private — about things you wish were better. Existing labour organizations can help you figure out how to rally together and get organized from the ground up. And if you're working in a big multinational, international groups like the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) might be your best help at building workplace solidarity across offices and borders: one of the ways unions have been hobbled by law is by limiting their legal existence to a single country.