To: Included Non Tenure Track Faculty
I am writing today to share important information regarding the union election process. As required by the National Labor Relations Board, the University of Chicago has provided the Board and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) with the available personal contact information of all academic appointees who are eligible to vote in this election. This included personal emails, cell and home phone numbers and home addresses. I wanted to notify you about this mandatory disclosure of personal information as soon as possible, because the SEIU may start contacting you through these means.
In addition, many of you have sent me questions about the upcoming election and union representation more generally, and I wanted to take the opportunity to address some of them here. Each of these questions has implications for your valuable work at the University, so I invite you to weigh the issues carefully and continue to educate yourselves on the election process and the implications of choosing to have the Service Employees International Union bargain on your behalf with the University.
Q: If we vote to join SEIU, how long do union contract negotiations typically take?
A: The amount of time varies, but negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement can take many months. Sometimes, it takes more than a year. By law, a university is not permitted to make unilateral changes to pay or other working conditions while negotiations are ongoing.
Q: What if we change our minds and decide to leave the union in the future?
A: The process of ending representation by a union, called decertification, is subject to a complex set of legal rules that prescribe who can seek decertification, and when a petition for decertification may be filed. Here's how the National Labor Relations Board describes the decertification process:
Have a union, but don't want it anymore, or want a different one?
"Under certain circumstances, you can vote out or "decertify" your union, or replace it with a different union. At least 30% of your coworkers must sign cards or a petition asking the NLRB to conduct an election. Unless a majority of the votes cast in the election are in favor of union representation, the union it will be decertified. Such elections are barred, however, for one year following the union's certification by the NLRB. Plus, if your employer and union reach a collective-bargaining agreement, you cannot ask for a decertification election (or an election to bring in another union) during the first three years of that agreement, except during a 30-day "window period." That period begins 90 days and ends 60 days before the agreement expires (120 and 90 days if your employer is a healthcare institution). After a collective-bargaining agreement passes the three-year mark or expires, you may ask for an election to decertify your union or to vote in another union at any time."
Thus, if the Service Employees International Union wins the election, you would have to wait at least a year before seeking to decertify the Union, and decertification would also require a second secret-ballot election in which a majority of those voting would have to choose decertification. This is another reason why it is important for you to know all the facts about voting for Union representation and then decide what's best for you. For additional information on decertification, please visit http://www.nlrb.gov/rights-we-protect/whats-law/employees/i-am-represent....
Q: Why should I vote in the upcoming election?
A: Every eligible employee should vote because the election outcome is determined by the majority of those who vote, not the majority of those eligible to vote. 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." 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: Is there any financial requirement to be a member of the union?
A: Yes. Unions such as SEIU require their members to pay initiation fees and monthly dues. In their FAQ on this effort, SEIU states that academic union members at UChicago would pay 2 percent of their income in union dues, or $100 in union dues for every $5,000 earned. http://ucfacultyforward.org/faq/
Q: What is SEIU's track record/history in representing academic appointees in higher education institutions?
A: SEIU historically has not focused on representing academic appointees members at private higher education institutions. According to their website, SEIU has over two million members working in the healthcare industry, public sector and property services. This includes janitors, security guards, home health workers and food service workers, among many others. SEIU is currently undertaking a nationwide campaign to organize part-time and/or non-tenure track faculty.
If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. Thank you for your time and attention.
Eric D. Isaacs
edited on 18 April 2016 for accuracy