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HR Offers Staff Information on Union Organizing Drive

February 6, 2008

To: staff members

From: Sharon Demers, assistant vice president, human resources

As you may be aware, there is a union drive currently under way at the University of New Hampshire, directed to staff. It is our understanding that the UAW and AFSCME have been conducting this drive and made contact with a number of you over the past several weeks. The following questions and answers have been developed in response to questions we have received and in an effort to inform you of the unionization process, and your rights and privileges. This document will be available on the HR website and updated as we receive additional questions. Please feel free to contact your HR Partner at 2-0500 should you have any questions.

The questions and answers are related to workplace guidelines, the election process and other related issues.


Q: If I agree to sign a union card, what does it mean?

A: You should read any card you are asked to sign carefully. As with any other document you are asked to sign, you should determine the nature of the commitment you are making with your signature. In general, your signature on a union card means that you support the goal of staff being unionized. Depending on the number of cards signed one of two things could result:

(1) If the union can demonstrate that a majority (more than 50 percent) of employees who could be in the union signed cards, the union can be deemed the authorized representative by the NH Public Employee Labor Relations Board without an election.


(2) If the union can demonstrate that at least 30 percent of the employees in the community of interest have signed union cards (or petitions) the union can petition the NH Public Employee Labor Relations Board to hold an election among the eligible parties to determine whether there is majority support (more than 50 percent) for organizing. If a majority of those voting support the formation of a union, then the union is established.

Please be aware that option (1) reflects a recent change in NH state statutes. In either case if the union wins an election or becomes the authorized representative without an election, depending on what the card says, your signature may also mean that you have agreed to join the union and pay dues. The terms under which you may be required to remain a union member and pay dues or a collective bargaining service fee will depend on such factors as the wording of the card you sign, the contract the union negotiates with the University, and/or the union constitution.

Q: How many votes does it take for a union to win if there is an election?

A: A union wins an election by getting a simple majority (50 percent plus one) of the votes cast. For example, if there are 200 employees in the bargaining unit, but only 100 employees vote, it takes 51 votes to win the election.

Q: If I am not in favor of the union, can I express my disinterest by not voting?

A: If there is an election, the result of the election is determined by a simple majority of the number of people, who do vote, not by a majority of the people in the bargaining unit. Therefore, the only way to express your opinion, either for or against the union is to exercise your right to vote.

Q: If there is a union election, will anyone be able to tell how I voted?

A: If an election is held, it will be by secret ballot. No one will be able to tell whether you voted for or against union representation.

Q: How does a union become recognized?

A: There are several steps in the recognition process:

1. Generating interest -- A union will first attempt to generate interest among a group or groups of employees who share a “community of interest.” A community of interest may be as broad as “all non-represented staff employees at the University of New Hampshire” or it may be a more limited grouping of employees who perform a similar body of work.

2. Election petition -- If a union can demonstrate proof that at least 30 percent of the employees who share a community of interest wish to be represented by a union, by submitting union cards (or petitions) signed by at least 30 percent of the employees in the community of interest, the union can petition the Labor Relations Board to hold an election. The union must also submit a list of the employee positions in the proposed community of interest, even if the union has not been able to obtain signatures from all of those employees. The university must then submit a list of names of the persons holding those positions.


Majority petition (no election) -- If the union can demonstrate that a majority (more than 50 percent) of employees who could be in the union signed cards, the union can be deemed the authorized representative by the NH Public Employee Labor Relations Board without an election.

3. Voting eligibility -- Once the signatures and position lists are filed with the Labor Relations Board, the university will have a specified period of time, not more than 15 days, to respond to the union’s election petition. According to law, “managerial” and “confidential” employees are not eligible to join a union and thus cannot vote in an election. “Confidential” employees are those who have regular access to sensitive and/or confidential information. “Supervisory” employees, while eligible to join a separate union, cannot belong to the same bargaining unit as the employees they supervise. The university has the right to challenge any employee and/or position on the union’s list as “managerial,” “confidential,” or “supervisory.” If the union and the university cannot agree on the list of employees eligible to vote in the election, the labor board will hold hearings regarding the employees/positions in dispute. The ruling of the labor board is final and will determine the roster of employees who are eligible to vote in the election. The list of employees eligible to vote will be posted well in advance of an election.

4. Election -- In the case of an election, the labor board is responsible for holding the election. The election can occur up to six months or longer following the labor board’s final ruling on the list of employees who are eligible to vote. If the union wins the election, the university must recognize the union as the sole representative for all of the employees in the bargaining unit whether or not they signed a union card or voted in the election.


Q: I have been visited by union representatives at my home, does the university provide home address information?

A: The university does not release home address information without employee consent and we did not release home address information in this instance. The University of New Hampshire is a public employer and as such we are subject to the New Hampshire Right-to-Know Law which defines many of our records as public information. Such information may include but is not limited to employee names, title, department and salary information. Again, this does not include home addresses.

Q: What rights do I have if union representatives visit me at home?

A: You are free to speak with or refuse to speak with union representatives who visit you or call you at home. There is no law or policy that requires employees to speak with union representatives either at home or at work, and you are free to respond accordingly.

Q: Can union organizers speak with a staff member during regular work hours if the organizers first ask if she or he has a minute to talk?

A: No. Union organizers - whether UNH staff or outside individuals - cannot disrupt the normal university business and operations. They may only approach staff before and after working hours and during customary staff breaks, such as meal times.

Q: Can union organizers speak with staff members on university property?

A: They may do so on university property that is open to the general public, such as the Memorial Union Building and the Dimond Library. Organizers are not allowed to address staff members in restricted access areas such as laboratory spaces and residence halls.

Q: Are university employees who are interested in organizing allowed to use university office supplies, photocopiers, etc. to promote or support the union organizing effort?

A: University office supplies and equipment are to be used for university business purposes only. Employees may use the fee-for-service photocopiers located in various locations around the campus such as the library and MUB. Use of technological resources such as telephones, voice mail applications, desktop computers, computer networks and electronic mail applications, is covered by applicable USNH polices such as the “Acceptable Use For Information Technology Resources” policy http://usnholpm.unh.edu/UNH/VI.Prop/F.htm#5 and non-work related solicitations http://usnholpm.unh.edu/USY/V.Pers/D.13.htm

Q: Are employees allowed to wear buttons, T-shirts or other gear expressing support of a union in the workplace?

A: In general, employees are permitted to wear buttons to support or oppose a unionizing effort; however, if you work in an office where there are professional dress expectations, a t-shirt may or may not be considered appropriate dress.

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