Q. If an exclusive representative is elected, how would the employment relationship between me and the University change?
A. Currently, a direct employment relationship exists between you and the University. If an exclusive representative is chosen by the bargaining unit, future changes in wages, benefits, hours and the other conditions of employment must be negotiated between the University and the union. These terms would be contained in what HEERA refers to as a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in other words, a contract.
Q. If the majority of those voting decide against having an exclusive representative (union) at this time, can such an agent be elected at a later time?
A. A petition for a new election could be filed after one year.
Q. Is there a minimum percentage of eligible voters that must vote in order to decide the election?
A. No. A simple majority (50% plus one vote) of the votes cast will decide the election for the whole bargaining unit. This decision will bind all employees who are eligible to vote, regardless of whether they vote. Voter indifference and apathy can result in a minority of the unit deciding the issue for the majority.
Q. What are the choices on the ballot?
A. You would choose between "No Representation" (i.e., no exclusive representation) and at least one union. The winning option would be the one receiving a simple majority of the votes cast. If "No Representation" is selected, you would continue to participate in the University's personnel programs and to have the freedom to choose any union or individual to represent you.
Q. Who will pay the cost of the election?
A. The election is conducted by the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB). No fee is charged for this election.
Q. Is membership in the union required to vote in the election?
A. No. If your position is included in the bargaining unit, you are eligible to vote.
Q. Am I obliged to vote for the union because I signed an authorization card or because I am a member of the union?
A. No. The election is by secret ballot. Your vote has nothing to do with an authorization card or union membership. Those employees who requested an election by signing an authorization card may vote for "No Representation."
Q. If a union is elected as the bargaining agent, will I have to become a member of that union? Will I have to pay dues?
A. Compulsory union membership is not provided for under the HEERA. However, on October 22, 1999 Gov. Gray Davis has signed SB 645, a bill passed by the Legislature requiring "agency shop" at the University of California and California State University. The new law takes effect Jan. 1, 2000, and will result in mandatory paycheck deductions for union-represented UC employees who do not currently pay union membership dues.
Q. If I join a union, how is the amount of dues established?
A. Dues are determined by the union, and are strictly an internal matter. The union would be able to tell you of their current dues structure.
Q. Who pays for negotiations if the union is elected as exclusive bargaining agent?
A. The union would pay for union expenses, and the University would pay for University expenses. Presumably the members of the union would be ultimately responsible for expenses incurred by the union.
Q. What are some of the costs involved?
A. It is difficult to project costs because there is no standard method of operations by labor unions. Some of these costs are those connected with any other business operation (rent, telephones, equipment, etc.) plus those that are particular to a union. For example, fees are incurred if it uses an attorney or other specialists or consultants. Travel expenses for union members to attend systemwide bargaining would also be incurred.
Q. What does collective bargaining require of the Union and the University?
A. The University and the Union are required to meet at reasonable times to negotiate in good faith over wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment. However, neither the University nor the union has to agree to a proposal or make a concession.
Q. What happens if the union and the University cannot agree on wages, hours, and other terms of conditions of employment?
A. HEERA also provides for mediation and factfinding to help resolve impasses in negotiations.
Q. How long does it take to negotiate a labor contract?
A. There is no way to predict this. Some labor contracts have been negotiated in a matter of weeks, others have taken several months, and some have taken years. In UC's experience, first contracts take longer than successor negotiations, typically up to a year and in one case 22 months.
Q. Will all members of the bargaining unit have an opportunity to express their views on what should be negotiated and will they have an opportunity to ratify what is, in fact, negotiated?
A. All employees in a bargaining unit would be governed by a union contract whether they voted for the union or not. Generally, non-union members would not be eligible to vote on matters such as contracts for which the union is responsible. This depends on the union's constitution and bylaws.
As to whether all employees in the bargaining unit would be allowed to express their views on contract matters, this depends upon the internal procedures and decision-making process of the union and its officers. Employees and union members should check the union's constitution and bylaws for the specifics of how the organization is operated.
Q. What can an eligible voter who is against the union do in election campaign?
A. Eligible voters who are against the union have the same rights as a union member or union supporter. They can freely discuss experiences and opinions with fellow employees, pointing out the reasons why they feel unions are neither necessary nor desirable. Such discussions should not be held in the workplace during work time, however.