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Union Questions Answered by HR

March 12, 2008

We have received many questions about the process of unionization and what it means to be part of a union. Below in a question and answer format is some information that should help you in making a decision.

Q: I read that the AFSCME organizer was quoted in the paper as saying, "It's nice to not have to go to elections anymore." What did she mean?

A: She probably meant that AFSCME does not want to give UNH employees the opportunity of voting in a secret ballot election to decide if they want to be represented by the union. Instead, AFSCME is apparently interested in signing up enough employees so they can file a petition for what the law calls a "Written Majority Authorization" petition. This would allow them to represent a bargaining unit without an election While a union can now do this under a new state law that was passed last fall, the option for democratic union elections is still provided for under the law.

You should keep this in mind if you are considering signing a card. With this new provision in the law, union cards are extremely important. If a union secures enough cards, it might decide not to seek an election at all, and the union might end up representing employees even without a secret ballot election.

Before you consider signing anything, make yourself fully informed about the questions surrounding unionization.

Q: I signed a union card before I knew about the new law. What can I do if I now want to withdraw it?

A: We take no position on whether you should or shouldn't withdraw your support for a union -- that is a matter entirely up to you. But should you decide you wish to cancel the card you signed, contact the union and ask it to return the signed document to you. You should also know that the law provides that cards used to support a union petition are only valid for six months from date of signing.

You may also want to contact the New Hampshire Public Employee Labor Relations Board -- that is the state agency that oversees these matters for public sector employees in our state at -- http://www.nh.gov/pelrb/ or 603-271-2587. They can answer any questions you may have about this question or any others relating to the process of unionization.

Q: Union representatives have come to my home repeatedly. Can the university do anything about this?

A: Truthfully, we cannot tell the union representatives to stop contacting you at your homes, but I do urge you to contact the AFSCME and UAW reps directly and tell them if this is a matter of concern to you.

Q: What limitations can be placed upon union organizers who solicit employees at work?

A: As mentioned previously, union organizers - whether UNH staff or outside individuals - cannot disrupt the normal university business and operations. They may only engage in solicitation during non-working time. Non-working time would be before and after working hours and during other non-work time periods, such as customary staff breaks and meal times.

The administration is providing answers to questions you have on the Human Resources Web site, and we will continue to keep that updated for all of you.

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