Frequently Asked Questions
Labor Relations FAQs
What is a Union?
A union is an organization which has as one of its purposes to collectively bargain the wages, hours and conditions of employment of a particular group of employees. It acts as your exclusive representative for these purposes. In order for the union to become your exclusive representative, a sufficient number of employees must show an interest in being represented.
What is Notice?
The collective bargaining agreement (contract) and case law require the employer to provide reasonable notice of substantial changes in terms and conditions of employment, with the opportunity for the union or non-exclusively represented employee to comment before the change is implemented.
What’s the difference between being a union “member” and just being “represented” by a union?
As a member, an employee has the right to vote on union business, including electing union officials, voting on negotiation issues (depending on the union), and/or ratifying the collective bargaining agreement. If an employee is not a member, the union still represents the employee, but the employee does not have voting rights.
What does it mean to be exclusively represented?
If, through the representation process, the union represents you, it also represents all employees like you throughout the UC system. The union has the authority and the exclusive right to negotiate with UC management on the amount of wages, benefits and working conditions that the employees will receive.
The legal power to negotiate as an individual would change and the union would become the agent for all employees in the bargaining unit. Once the union represents you, potential wage increases could be less a matter of individual performance and achievement, and would be the outcome(s) of the collective bargaining process.
Does UC have an opinion about whether or not employees should unionize?
The University adheres to the principle that representation by a union is a matter of employee choice. UC supports employees’ rights to determine for themselves whether or not they think unionization is beneficial. The University believes that its role is to ensure that you have an informed choice when faced with this important decision and to ensure that you understand the process.
How long does it take to negotiate a labor contract?
There is no way to predict this. Some labor contracts have been negotiated in a matter of weeks, others have taken several months, and some have taken years. In UC's experience, first contracts take longer than successor negotiations, typically up to a year and in one case 22 months.
Who Represents Me?
Representation is based upon the job title code into which you are employed. You can check on the union that represents your title code by searching for your title in the Title Code System Inquiry (TCS).
Union Scope and Authority
Do you have to allow a union representative to be present whenever the employee wants one?
No. A union representative is not appropriate in meetings such as those to give work assignments, coaching sessions, performance evaluation discussions or staff meetings. However, employees have a right to have a representative present if they reasonably believe that disciplinary action will result from a meeting.
The right of employees to have union representation at investigatory interviews was announced by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 1975 case (NLRB vs. Weingarten, Inc. 420 U.S. 251, 88 LRRM 2689). These rights have become known as the Weingarten rights.
Employees have Weingarten rights only during investigatory interviews. An investigatory interview occurs when a supervisor questions an employee to obtain information which could be used as a basis for discipline or asks an employee to defend his or her conduct.
Does the union have the ability to unilaterally grant raises and/or prevent termination of employees?
No. These matters are part of the negotiations process between the University and any union certified to represent a unit of University employees.
Are wage increases subject to collective bargaining.
All wage issues will be subject to the collective bargaining process for represented employees.