FAQ on Unionization Elections
Q: What are the election dates?
A: Ballots will be mailed to your home address on Wednesday, September 14, 2016. For your ballot to count, it must be received by the NLRB by the close of business on Friday, September 30.
If you believe you are eligible to vote but have not received a ballot by Monday, September 19, please contact the NLRB immediately at (310) 307-7295 to ensure that you have an opportunity to be heard in this election. It’s important that you not wait until the last minute to mail your ballot back to the NLRB.
Q: Who should vote?
A: In brief, eligible voters are teaching-track faculty, full-time and part-time, teaching in Dornsife College as of the beginning of fall semester 2016, plus those who taught both fall and spring semester 2015-16. (The NLRB Notice of Election gives the official definition.)
Q: Will anyone know how I voted?
A: NO. This is a secret ballot. Each voter will be asked to mark an “X” in the appropriate box on the ballot. (Any other marks, comments, signatures, or other writings on the ballot may cause the ballot to be voided.) Do not sign your ballot – instead sign the outside of the envelope in which the ballot is returned to the NLRB. No one will be able to determine how you voted. [i]
Q: Is there a minimum number of faculty who must vote in order to decide the outcome?
A: NO. A majority of those actually voting determines the outcome. For example, of the 433 eligible voters, if only 200 vote and SEIU Local 721 gets 101 of those votes, Local 721 wins the election. Those who actually vote end up deciding for every other faculty member whether Local 721 is elected to represent all 433.
Casting your ballot
Q; Will “USC Faculty Union” be on the ballot?
A: NO. The organization seeking to become your exclusive collective bargaining representative is Local 721 of the Service Employees International Union, and that is what will be on the ballot. The SEIU and the Teamsters left the AFL-CIO to form an organization called Change to Win. The website for SEIU Local 721 says, “Our members care for the sick, protect the quality of the drinking water, keep records in the courts, administer benefits for poor people, maintain the libraries, help run the jails, protect our communities’ most vulnerable members, maintain the streets, work with parolees, groom and maintain the beaches, and provide many other services to keep counties and cities running.”
Q: What will be my choices on the ballot?
A: You will have two ballot choices:
1. “NO” means you DO NOT want to delegate to Local 721 of the Service Employees International Union the exclusive right to represent you and the whole group of Dornsife teaching-track faculty in collective bargaining.
2. “YES” means you DO want that.
Q: What happens if a majority of those voting select “NO”?
A: You will remain free to address compensation, benefits, and other workplace issues directly with the University. [ii] The USC Academic Senate, faculty committees, and Dornsife Faculty Council will also remain free to work with the administration on compensation, benefits, and terms of employment, without having to get union permission.
Q: What happens if a majority of those voting select “YES”?
A: If, following resolution of any remaining legal issues, it is finally determined that Local 721 is the exclusive bargaining representative for the Dornsife teaching-track faculty, then the University and the union will bargain in good faith. Any agreement requires the consent of both sides. The law does not require either party to agree to a proposal or require the making of a concession. The employer’s duty is to meet at reasonable times and confer in good faith.[iii]
Q: Will the University punish or retaliate against employees who supported the union?
A: NO. Retaliation against employees for their union activity is against the law and the University’s own policies. USC will not retaliate.
If the faculty change their minds later
Q: Can there by another election?
A: If the certified results are NO, another election can be held in one year. On the other hand, if there is a final determination that Local 721 is the exclusive bargaining representative and a union contract is in effect, “you cannot ask for a decertification election (or an election to bring in another union) during the first three years of that agreement, except during a 30-day ‘window period.’ That period begins 90 days and ends 60 days before the agreement expires…. “[iv]
[i] Page 11 of the Basic Guide to the National Labor Relations Act, http://www.nlrb.gov/sites/default/files/attachments/basic-page/node-3024/basicguide.pdf