A union is an organized group of workers who aim to secure appropriate benefits, payment and working conditions for members. They are usually organized by industry to better address the issues specific to that industry. Unions also offer other benefits, such as training opportunities that may not be easily available in the industry. Those who wish to learn a trade in this type of industry, such as construction, can become eligible for a union’s apprenticeship program through membership. An application is usually required to join a union. Members can expect to pay dues on an annual basis to maintain the membership.
Search for a union in your industry. The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) provides a list of affiliated unions. If you are employed at a company with an active union presence, it is likely that you will receive an invitation to join the union at the end of your new-hire probation period.
Find out if you qualify for membership. Requirements for membership may include a history of employment in the industry, licenses and certifications. You may find membership requirements listed on the union's website. If not, contact the union office for information.
Obtain an application. It may be possible to download it from the union’s website. Otherwise, call or visit the organization and request a copy. Some unions, such as the American Federation of Musicians, allow potential candidates to complete the membership application online.
Complete the application. You will have to provide career information, in addition to your name and address. This would include employment information and your credentials. Expect to provide your license number and any information that proves your qualification as a professional in your industry. For instance, pilots interested in becoming members of the Air Line Pilots Association must provide their license type, license number and flight hours.
Submit the application to the union and wait for a decision. You are likely to receive notification of the organization's decision via mail. Prepare to pay the membership fees if your application is approved. Note that dues vary by union. For instance, members of the Screen Actors Guild pay a minimum of $116 plus a percentage of their earnings each year while members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) pay varying amounts, ranging from $10 per month to $94 per month in 2011, based on their income.