Posted on | August 7, 2012 | No Comments
There will be an election early this fall for the unrepresented clerical, technical, and specialized staff at UVM, with an unprecedented two unions on the ballot.
Do you know your options?
We hope by now you have noticed that two different, unrelated groups are attempting to unionize the non-represented staff at UVM. We are United Staff (US); the other group is the University Staff Union (USU-VTNEA).
Although the names are similar, our philosophies are quite distinct. When it comes time to vote, it will be crucial for you to understand those differences.
Here’s one difference for you to consider:
All unions have the stated aim of improving working conditions for their members. Unions traditionally accomplish this is by casting management (in our case, the UVM administration) as the “bad guys” who need to be dealt with through gamesmanship, posturing, lawyering, and other adversarial approaches. Clearly, it’s hard to do our best work in an environment ruled by antagonism and mistrust. All too often, workplace problems are turned into formal grievances, and ineffective solutions could be imposed by people who may not have a true understanding of the problem.
United Staff offers a different vision with a non-traditional approach to workplace problem-solving. We think of ourselves as an “employee association” rather than as a typical union. At UVM, we are already working well with the administration in some departments, and we plan to encourage and broaden those areas of collaboration. Still, when problems do arise, United Staff believes that the best way to proceed is to find the solution in our own expertise, gained from our years of working at UVM and our network of colleagues across the UVM community. Together, we can help the involved parties come to a real, workable solution.
By engaging in the labor-relations work ourselves, we continue to gain sophisticated and valuable skills that enrich our lives as well as our workplaces. This direct collaboration between the staff and the administration makes for more dignified and harmonious working lives. Our intent is for United Staff members and members of the University administration to work side-by-side, cooperatively and effectively, to improve our working conditions.This approach has been successfully implemented by the Vermont State Employees Association (VSEA), and the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers (HUCTW).
We can do this too! We are already well on our way.
We hope you better understand the United Staff vision of improving workplace relations while maintaining the pride and satisfaction we feel as UVM employees. There are other key differences between traditional unions and the United Staff. We will be happy to explain those differences to you, and answer any questions you might have. Call US or email US for more information.
United Staff, the local, independent in-house union, continues to advocate and organize for a unified staff working together across the university community.
United Staff has always believed in fairness and respect to create the best working environment for all of us, no matter one’s job title or duties.
Posted on | June 26, 2012 | No Comments
Desserts and beverages will be provided
Posted on | April 16, 2012 | No Comments
Here’s a summary of recent events:
United Staff was part of making labor history in March by participating in two days of hearings before the Vermont Labor Relations Board (VLRB). There have not been two unions present for a hearing before the labor board in Vermont.
Will there be an election for staff at UVM in the near future? The VLRB could rule as soon as April 27th.
As a result of the hearings the VLRB will make a ruling as to the appropriateness of the bargaining unit proposed by the VT-NEA. The VLRB will either approve the unit as defined, or they will reject the unit as not an appropriate unit based on their ruling.
If they rule in favor of the small clerical staff unit of ~400 employees there could be an election with a choice of two unions on the ballot for all of the clerical staff before June 15th, 2012. Again, another first in Vermont.
Posted on | January 27, 2012 | No Comments
A lot has happened over the last few weeks in the efforts to build an employee association for UVM staff. Here’s a summary of the events:
In mid-December of last year, organizers from the Vermont NEA (calling themselves University Staff Union) filed a petition [link to PDF] with the Vermont Labor Relations Board (VLRB) to have an election for a bargaining unit to represent approximately 431 of the 1500+ unrepresented staff at UVM. United Staff has consistently worked to build an employee association that will include all currently unrepresented staff, but we filed an intervening petition [link to PDF] one week ago to ensure that if there was an election for this smaller group, United Staff would be included. On Thursday, January 26th, UVM responded to these petitions [link to PDF] suggesting that more staff should be included in the bargaining unit.
So what happens next? The Vermont Labor Relations Board will preside over hearings where representatives of the VT-NEA and the UVM administration will both make cases for their preferred definition of the bargaining unit. The VLRB will then decide on the appropriate grouping. United Staff representatives will attend these discussions, but our participation may be limited due to our position as intervenors. The outcome of the hearing will determine the next steps for everyone involved.
The University’s formal response to the NEA’s petition aligns with United Staff’s long time assertion that the strongest union for professional, technical and clerical staff at the University of Vermont would be all-inclusive, minus the managerial staff, as the University’s response stipulates. United Staff, the local, independent employee association, continues to advocate and organize for a unified staff working together across the university community. As the chosen collective bargaining representative of the staff, United Staff will negotiate with the administration for meaningful salary increases, affordable benefits, continued tuition remission, parental leave and child care, among other important working conditions, to help create the workplace UVM claims to offer its staff, that which is steeped in social justice, humanity, fairness and respect.
Posted on | October 25, 2011 | No Comments
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).« go back — keep looking »