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Frequently Asked Questions

General

Q:  Which labor union has filed a petition seeking to represent for collective-bargaining purposes the part-time faculty and adjuncts at the University of La Verne and are all part-time faculty and adjuncts impacted?
Q:  When will an election take place?  What are the next steps?
Q:  What are my rights regarding union representation and organizing?

Union Representation

Q:  What is the University’s position regarding the SEIU’s desire to represent the Adjunct Professors?
Q:  Does electing a union guarantee better pay and benefits?
Q:  Won’t having a union better increase compensation and job protection?
Q:  What happens to my voice at the University if the union is elected? 
Q:  If I don’t vote for the union and they win the election, will I still be in the union and pay dues?

During the Election Campaign

Q:  Can the University fire or penalize faculty or staff for speaking up in favor of a union?
Q:  Are union organizers allowed to approach non-represented faculty and staff members during regular work hours?
Q:  What are the rules if a faculty or staff member is distributing literature or handouts during working time?
Q:  Can union organizers speak with faculty and staff members on University property?
Q:  Are faculty or staff members required to speak with union organizers?
Q:  What rights do I have if union representatives visit me at home? Am I required to speak with them?
Q:  I received an email from an individual whom I don’t know. This individual has been sharing their thoughts about a union, and I’d rather not receive them. Is there something that the University can do to stop these emails?

Voting Process

Q:  Who is eligible to vote in this election? What is the “bargaining unit?”
Q:  How do I vote?
Q:  I'm an eligible voter but have not yet received my ballot—what should I do?
Q:  Why is it important that I vote?
Q:  If I already signed a card asking for a union, do I have to vote for the union to represent me or can I vote “no”?
Q:  If I don’t want the SEIU to represent me, what should I do?

Delayed Vote Count

Q:  Why weren’t the votes counted?
Q:  What is the University’s position on counting the ballots?
Q:  Is this the normal NLRB process?

About Unfair Labor Practices

Q:  What is an Unfair Labor Practice charge?
Q:  Is it true that the SEIU has filed unfair labor practice charges against the University? Is this a common occurrence in labor campaigns?
Q:  What happens next?


General

Q:  Which labor union has filed a petition seeking to represent for collective-bargaining purposes the part-time faculty and adjuncts at the University of La Verne and are all part-time faculty and adjuncts impacted?
A:  The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has filed a petition that states its desire to represent for collective-bargaining purposes "all part-time faculty who are employed by the University of La Verne to teach in the programs and academic units at the University's main campus who teach at least one credit-earning class, lesson, or lab."  The petition proposes that part-time faculty and adjuncts who teach at the main campus be allowed to vote through a secret ballot election conducted by the NLRB on whether they support union representation.


Q:  When will an election take place?  What are the next steps?
A:  The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) must determine the bargaining unit scope, so we all know who will be eligible to vote in the election and ultimately represented by the union should the majority of the bargaining unit members vote in favor of representation. Consistent with respecting these most fundamental rights, we are currently evaluating whether the composition of the bargaining unit proposed by the union comports with applicable law and the operations, structure and culture of the University. For example, we are mindful of our other part-time faculty and adjuncts who teach at our regional campuses. The SEIU is proposing to define the bargaining unit as part-time faculty who are employed at our main campus and who teach "at least one credit-earning class, lesson or lab."

At an NLRB hearing that occurred November 14th, 2013, the University took a position of inclusion to expand the proposed bargaining unit.  The University does not believe the part-time faculty and adjunct professors are best represented by limiting the bargaining unit to those who teach on the main campus as proposed by the SEIU in its petition.

To be clear, the University is not contesting this election. Given that part-time faculty and adjunct professors are not necessarily associated with a particular campus but may teach on multiple campuses, and they share a strong identity and community of interest in terms of their working conditions and relationship with the University and its students, we are advocating for greater inclusion. 

Following the hearing, the University and the union will file briefs with the NLRB explaining and providing legal citation in support of their respective positions. After considering the briefs, the NLRB then will determine who the eligible voters are and set a date for the secret ballot election, should they direct one.  The timing of that decision is in the hands of the NLRB.   

 

Q:   What are my rights regarding union representation and organizing?
A:   Part-time faculty and adjuncts have the legal right to speak and organize for or against union representation.  Federal law protects your rights to:

  • Talk to your fellow faculty during work time about your views for or against a union, just as you are allowed to discuss other personal matters
  • Organize with your fellow faculty to make your views known about the advantages or disadvantages of SEIU representation at the University of La Verne
  • Distribute information, pro or con, about SEIU representation
  • Attend meetings or gatherings on non-work time to discuss the pros or cons of SEIU representation


Union Representation

Q:  What is the University’s position regarding the SEIU’s desire to represent the Adjunct Professors?
A:  The University is not contesting the election. In fact, the University advocated before the NLRB a position of inclusion to expand the proposed bargaining unit because we are mindful of the Adjunct Professors who teach at our regional campuses. The University does not believe the part-time faculty and adjuncts are best represented by limiting the bargaining unit to those who teach on the main campus as proposed by the SEIU in its petition.

It is the University’s preference to maintain a direct working relationship with the part-time faculty and adjuncts so that we can work together to continue the improvements started under President Lieberman for all of our faculty and staff. We hope to continue the process and the momentum behind making the improvements we know we need together. Central to the success of this process is our ability to hear directly from our part-time faculty and adjuncts – they have unique perspectives and we want and need to hear from them.

That said, we support the part-time faculty and adjuncts’ individual right to choose whether or not to be represented by a union. More significantly, that decision is theirs and theirs alone to make as they consider what is best for them and their family. The University is and will continue to make every effort to ensure that part-time faculty and adjuncts know all the facts so that they can make an informed decision free from intimidation, coercion, or reprisal by anyone (SEIU or University). 


Q:  Does electing a union guarantee better pay and benefits?
A:  No. The University acknowledges there is room for improvement and has been adjusting compensation levels annually — already providing almost 18.6% in increases to Adjunct compensation since FY 2010/11. Our goal is to ensure that we are competitive with our defined university peers and groups and we are moving in that direction.  We recognize we still have work to do and our preference is to maintain our direct working relationship so that we can stay the course in making improvements together.

After the NLRB conducts an election, if a majority of part-time faculty and adjuncts vote for SEIU representation, then at some point in the future the negotiation process begins. It is not possible for anyone to say at this time what the outcome of the negotiations will be. But, as in any negotiations, it is a give and take process and new labor contracts often take months, and sometimes years, to negotiate. Under the law, except under specific circumstances, the University is generally prevented from offering part-time faculty and adjuncts represented by the union any incentives such as pay and benefit increases during the negotiations process.

 

Q:  Won’t having a union better increase compensation and job protection?
A:  It is unknown what may result from the process of collective bargaining. If a union is elected at our University, it starts a negotiations process between the University and the union.  A union cannot unilaterally increase compensation or create or preserve jobs at the University of La Verne. We hope that the efforts begun under President Lieberman over the past two years demonstrates our commitment to grow the University and enhance the quality of life for our faculty and staff. Thus far, a few examples of the steps we have taken include hiring a new Chief Human Resources Officer, forming a Compensation Task Force, hiring a professional compensation administrator and increasing compensation by almost 18.6% since FY 2010/11. The job is not finished and our hope is we will have the opportunity to continue working together to meet our goal of providing competitive compensation to our faculty and staff.

 

Q:  What happens to my voice at the University if the union is elected? 
A:  If our part-time faculty and adjuncts vote in the SEIU we can no longer deal directly with those within the union on issues like pay, benefits, and working conditions. The University would be required by law to only deal with the union and its negotiating committee. If a majority of eligible part-time faculty and adjuncts vote in favor of union representation, at some point in the future negotiations would be set up and a union negotiating committee is either chosen or elected. One or more part-time faculty from the University may sit on the negotiating committee with the union negotiators.

 

Q:  If I don’t vote for the union and they win the election, will I still be in the union and pay dues?
A:  If a majority of eligible part-time faculty and adjuncts vote in favor of union representation, then all part-time faculty who were eligible to vote, even those who voted “no” or did not vote at all, would be represented by the union.  The payment of dues is a negotiated topic. Typically, it is a union priority to negotiate a contract provision, known as a “union security clause” that requires all who are represented to pay dues or an equivalent service fee to the union as a condition of employment. Such a clause could require that the University terminate any part-time faculty member who does not remain current in payment of union dues. Since this is a very important provision for unions, it is difficult to resolve union negotiations without agreeing to it, and the union could trade off something of importance to its constituency to obtain an employer’s agreement to mandatory dues payment. It is important that the faculty and staff at our University learn the facts about joining a union and ensure their voices are heard about whether they support or oppose having a union represent the adjuncts.

 

During the Election Campaign

Q:  Can the University fire or penalize faculty or staff for speaking up in favor of a union?
A:  No. Not only would such action be illegal, but it would go against our values and commitment to foster a learning environment that is consistent with our core values of community, inclusivity, ethical reasoning and lifelong learning. The University will not tolerate obstruction of any faculty or staff’s free exercise of rights or deliberate misinformation aimed at any of our faculty or staff.

 

Q:  Are union organizers allowed to approach non-represented faculty and staff members during regular work hours?
A:  Union organizers, whether staff or outside individuals, must abide by rules intended to maintain order and safety in the workplace. Those rules allow organizers, whether University of La Verne faculty, staff or outside persons, to approach staff on University property that is open to visitors and guests.

 

Q:  What are the rules if a faculty or staff member is distributing literature or handouts during working time?
A:  The University does not prohibit the distribution of materials by faculty or staff members. Of course, fellow faculty or staff members are within their rights to accept or reject any materials offered to them.

 

Q:  Can union organizers speak with faculty and staff members on University property?
A:  Union organizers are allowed to speak to faculty and staff on University property that is open to visitors and guests. Organizers are not allowed to be in any area that is normally restricted to visitors or guests, such as closed office areas and classrooms while class is in session.

 

Q:  Are faculty or staff members required to speak with union organizers?
A:  There is no obligation to speak with union organizers. If employees do not wish to speak to union representatives, or University representatives, they have the right to ask them not to approach them. This includes calls or visits outside of regular work hours, whether in your office or on campus or at home.

 

Q:  What rights do I have if union representatives visit me at home? Am I required to speak with them?
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 in the workplace, and you are free to respond accordingly.

 

Q:  I received an email from an individual whom I don’t know.  This individual has been sharing their thoughts about a union, and I’d rather not receive them.  Is there something that the University can do to stop these emails?
A:  While it is inappropriate for individuals to use official University listservs to send email that is personal in nature, there is no policy that prohibits employees from sending personal email to individual recipients by using a list they have created for this purpose. These messages, which reflect the opinion of the sender and not necessarily that of the University, are protected by the right of free speech. You are free to delete such emails without reading them, and the University encourages its staff to reply to senders and ask them to stop sending you email of a personal nature, if you prefer not to receive it. 

 

Voting Process

Q:  Who is eligible to vote in this election? What is the “bargaining unit?”
A:  The NLRB has determined that the eligible voters—i.e. the “bargaining unit” — are adjunct faculty at La Verne’s main campus who have taught at least one credit earning class, lesson, or lab during the period 01/01/13 to 12/31/13.

Adjunct faculty who only teach on La Verne’s regional campuses and those who teach online courses have been excluded from the election.

The University is one community and if the union is approved for the main campus adjunct faculty, this decision will divide the adjuncts legally into two separate groups: those who are governed by the faculty policies and practices and those who could be subject to the terms of a collective bargaining agreement.


Q:  How do I vote?
A:  The purpose of the election will be to determine whether you want to have the SEIU represent you, or whether you prefer to continue to maintain your direct working relationship with the University.

The secret ballot election will be conducted by mail-in ballots. The NLRB will mail eligible voters a secret ballot on Friday, January 31. Simple instructions and a return envelope will be included. The voters must complete and return the ballot to the NLRB by Friday, February 14.

This is a secret ballot election; therefore how you vote is a private matter. No one will know how you voted in the election.

 

Q:  I'm an eligible voter but have not yet received my ballot—what should I do?
A:  The NLRB must receive your ballot by February 14, 2014. If you are an eligible voter and have not received your ballot by February 5, please call the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) at (213) 894-5200 and request a duplicate ballot.   

Remember, if you want your voice to be heard, you MUST vote. The outcome of this election is determined by 50% + 1 of those who vote, not the majority eligible voters. And even if you signed a union authorization card before, you can still vote “no” in this election. Signing a card does not obligate you to vote “yes” or mean you don’t need to vote.

 

Q:  Why is it important that I vote?
A:  Even though voting is not mandatory, you must vote if you want your voice to be heard. In order for the union to be elected, the SEIU must obtain a majority of the votes actually cast, not a majority of the total number of voters. If you do not want SEIU but you do not vote, that is one less “NO” vote against SEIU.

 

Q:  If I already signed a card asking for a union, do I have to vote for the union to represent me or can I vote “no”?
A:  Authorization cards signed requesting representation were only for the authorization to hold an election. Regardless of whether you did or did not sign a card, the NRLB has authorized an election and you can participate. Even if you signed an authorization card, you DO NOT have to vote for the union to represent you. It will be a secret ballot election and no one will know how you voted unless you choose to share that information.

 

Q:  If I don’t want the SEIU to represent me, what should I do?
A:  You will receive voting instructions from the NLRB about the voting process. If you do not want to be represented by the SEIU, then you should be sure to vote and vote “NO.” Before that time, you are also encouraged to share your views and opinions with other adjunct faculty. Everyone is affected by the outcome of a union vote, so do not let others make a decision that will directly impact you.

Delayed Vote Count

Q:  Why weren’t the votes counted?
A:  On January 23, 2014, the Union filed Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) Charges with the National Labor Relations Board. Initially, the Union asked that the election continue as planned. On February 7, 2014—one week into the two-week mail ballot election—the Union reversed its position and demanded that the ballots be impounded until the ULP charges have been investigated. The Board has since complied with the Union’s request and the ballots remain impounded now. The University has vigorously fought this decision.

 

 What is the University’s position on counting the ballots?
A: The University is extremely disappointed that the count has been postponed, and firmly believes that any delay in counting the ballots is to no one’s benefit—not the union’s, not the University’s, nor, most importantly, the voters. The University appreciates that part-time faculty members took the time to become informed, express their views and mail in their ballot. It’s time for the adjuncts’ voices to be heard.

 

Q:  Is this the normal NLRB process?
A: The Region Office of the NLRB has the authority to conduct elections and investigations into ULP charges as it sees fit, in accordance with established Board rules. We believe that it would be most effective and efficient to count the ballots now, so that the parties know its outcome, after which the ULP charges can be litigated, if necessary. We believe that the Union’s eleventh hour reversal – asking to have the ballots impounded - is an unwarranted and unnecessary delay tactic. The University will continue to challenge the Board’s decision. Moreover, we believe that the Union’s ULP charges are completely without merit. The University has submitted its opposition and position statement and litigates these matters, if necessary. Click here

About Unfair Labor Practices

Q:  What is an Unfair Labor Practice charge?
A:  An Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge occurs when a union or an employer is alleged to have violated the National Labor Relations Act. For more information, you may go to the NLRB’s website at www.nlrb.gov.

 

Q:   Is it true that the SEIU has filed unfair labor practice charges against the University? Is this a common occurrence in labor campaigns?
A: Yes, the SEIU has filed six charges alleging that the University has violated federal labor law. It is a common union tactic for a union to file ULP charges to regain support they may have lost during a campaign. We believe this to be the case and that the ballots should be counted. Meanwhile, the University will fully cooperate with the National Labor Relations Board as they investigate the claims. As such, on March 11, 2014 the University filed a position statement in opposition of the union’s charges with the Board.

Click here to read the NLRB’s letter summarizing the ULP Charges against the University.
Click here to read the University’s Position Statement in Opposition to the union’s charges.

 

Q:  What happens next?
A: The National Labor Relations Board will investigate the ULP charges. If the Board determines that the charges lack merit, the SEIU may withdraw the charges. Alternatively, the Board may dismiss the charges. If the Board finds that the charges have merit, it may order one or more hearings on the issues, which may include sworn testimony and formal admission of evidence. If the Board finds wrongdoing, it may issue an order directing the University to comply with the law and other remedial measures.

Research also found that 33% of unfair labor practice charges were settled or adjusted, and only 3% resulted in a Board order.