To: Non Tenure Track Faculty
As reflected in the Notice of Election that you received yesterday, the election determining whether you will be represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) will begin this Friday, Nov. 20, with the mailing of ballots from the National Labor Relations Board. The Provost's Office wanted take this opportunity to address additional questions that have arisen leading up to the election.
We are committed to making sure you have all of the information you need to make an informed vote during the upcoming election.
Q. If we are represented by the union, who would sit at the bargaining table?
A. Representatives of both the University and the union would sit at the bargaining table. On the University's side, labor relations professionals, administrators, and faculty members would likely participate. On the other side, the union would pick its own bargaining team, which might include academic appointees represented by the union and representatives of the union itself. The University will bargain in good faith if voters choose to be represented by the union.
Q. Are mail ballots the only way I can vote?
A. Yes. The NLRB will conduct the election via a mailed ballot sent to your home address. This is the only way to participate in the election. The NLRB will count the ballots on December 9, 2015. For a ballot to count, it must be carefully completed in accordance with the detailed instructions, placing an "X" in the appropriate spot and making no other markings. The ballot must then be placed in the blue "OFFICIAL SECRET BALLOT" envelope and sealed. That sealed blue envelope must then be placed in the yellow, postage-paid envelope, which must be signed by you, mailed, and received by the NLRB by the close of business on December 8, 2015.
Q. How do I know that my vote will be kept confidential?
A. The election is by secret ballot, which means your voting choice will be kept confidential from the University, the SEIU and your peers. You will be asked to mail your ballot to the NLRB in a yellow postage-paid envelope you will receive from the NLRB. You will be asked to mark an "X" in the appropriate box on the ballot and should not sign your ballot. All of the ballots will be mixed together and then counted. No one will be able to determine how any individual person voted.
While you should not sign your ballot, you must sign the outside of the yellow postage-paid envelope used to mail your ballot to the NLRB. Any ballot received in an unsigned yellow envelope will not be counted.
Q. If I previously signed an authorization card, am I now required to vote for SEIU representation in the upcoming election?
A. No. Even if you previously signed an authorization card, you are free to vote for or against union representation in the upcoming election. Whether you intend to vote "yes" or "no," you need to make your voice heard. If you do not vote, you will not be part of this important decision regarding your future.
Q. How many votes are needed to certify (or "vote in") the SEIU?
A. The election outcome will be determined by the majority of those who vote, not the majority of those eligible to vote. This underscores how important it is for all eligible voters to cast a vote. As previously shared, by way of example, if there are 175 eligible voters but only 80 vote, the SEIU would be certified to represent everyone if just 41 vote "yes."
Q. If the election results in representation by the union, when will there be another election?
A. Union elections are not like political elections, where regular elections are held to determine the voters' representatives. Once a union is certified as the exclusive representative of a bargaining unit, it remains so indefinitely. If the union wins a majority of votes, the University will be obligated to enter into negotiations with the union to reach a collective bargaining agreement. The duration of such agreements (or contracts) varies, but typically they last 3 years or longer. During this time, the SEIU would serve as your exclusive representative with the University on wages, benefits, or other working conditions. The process to decertify (or remove) a union will typically also require a vote, and it is a complex process that typically takes years to complete.
Q. Is the union allowed to call a strike?
A. Yes, unless the union and the University agree on a labor contract that prohibits strikes. Although strikes are uncommon, strikes and strike threats are tools available to unions to pressure employers. In recent years, non-tenure-track academic appointees have engaged in strikes, strike votes, walkouts or other job actions at numerous institutions including the University of Illinois at Chicago, Southern Illinois University, Central Michigan University, the Pennsylvania System of Higher Education, California State University (System), and Wayne State University.
edited on 18 April 2016 for accuracy