Posted on | October 25, 2011 |
A representative from the United Staff organizing committee spoke with Tim Noonan, Executive Director of the Vermont Labor Relations Board (VLRB) earlier this month regarding some common questions about card-signing, elections, and ballots. Most of the information summarized below can be found in the VLRB Rules of Practice, and section 13, which covers the questions we’re interested in, is here: http://vlrb.vermont.gov/sites/vlrb/files/Rules%20of%20Practice/Part%201/Article%2013.pdf
First, it is correct that we need at least 30 percent showing-of-interest to file our petition for an election, and that an “intervening” union effort would need 10 percent to get themselves onto the same election ballot. The timing is strict: after we file our 30 percent or more with the VLRB, the VLRB notifies UVM, and UVM has to post/announce that a labor organizing attempt is underway. From the date of that posting, the “intervening” union effort has 10 days to produce their 10-percent petition or cards. This is detailed in section 13.10.
Second, if there are three options on the ballot – United Staff (US), the VT-NEA affiliated union (USU), and No Union – and none of the options receives 50% plus 1 of the votes, a run-off election will be held between the top two choices, as outlined in section 13.21.
Third, there’s the question of what happens if people sign two different cards, one for US and one for the VT-NEA affiliated union. Do they cancel each other out? Does the card with the most recent signature count? Or are both cards taken at face value as “showings of interest”? Mr. Noonan himself doesn’t know the answer to this, and he said that at this point, nobody else can know this either. There’s no reference to the situation in the VLRB Rules of Practice. He explained that the main question when the VLRB examines and counts the cards is, “has a sufficient showing of interest been presented?” and the Board will make an administrative ruling on this point, using the cards submitted by both organizations. However, how exactly they will determine the validity of the cards is not specified. (Although the National Labor Relations Board “dual-card doctrine” ruling implies that the contradictory cards would cancel each other out, Mr. Noonan said the VLRB is not required to follow NLRB rulings.)
If for some reason the VLRB decides we have NOT shown sufficient interest, we are notified of that fact, and we will be given “a reasonable amount of time, but not less than ten days” to present more cards. See section 13.6 (B).