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Questions for Unions

Questions for Unions

During an organizing campaign, union representatives will present reasons why they believe joining a collective bargaining unit will benefit non-represented employees. Although the University can and will provide information regarding employee, union and employer rights and responsibilities under Vermont law, there are certain questions about how a union will represent its members that only the union can answer. Questions you may wish to address to any organizing union include:

How Much Does It Cost?

  • How much are the union dues?
  • Can my dues be increased?
  • Will I have to pay an initiation fee to join the union?
  • Do all union members pay the same dollar amount in dues or do some members pay more than others?
  • Can the union set limits on the minimum or maximum amount of my pay that is subject to union dues?
  • If the union wins the election, will I be required to join the union and pay dues or can I choose not to pay dues?
  • If I choose not to pay dues, will I be required to pay a collective bargaining service fee (agency fee)?
  • If I am required to pay the service fee, how much is the fee?

[Photo from UVM Campus]

Where Do My Dues Go?

  • What percentage of my dues supports the local union?
  • The national union?
  • Will the union use a portion of my dues to support political campaigns, lobbying efforts, or other organizations?
  • If so, what are they?
  • Who determines the union’s budget and how my dues money is spent?
  • If I have to pay a collective bargaining service fee, what does the fee cover and how is the amount of the fee determined?

Who Will Represent My Interests?

  • How does the union choose a collective bargaining team?
  • How are the union representatives (stewards) and officers chosen?
  • Who decides the platform and issues for collective bargaining?
  • Does the majority rule?
  • If so, how will my issues be heard if they are different from the majority interests?
  • Who votes to ratify (approve) the union contract?
  • If I choose not to pay dues will the union represent me if I have a grievance?

What Are the Union’s Priorities?

  • What factors are considered a priority when the union bargains for salary increases, across-the-board increases, pay for performance (merit increases), job market-based increases, employee length of service, and/or other factors?
  • Does seniority (length of service) always rule? In competition for job openings? Scheduling vacation leave? Managing potential layoffs? Selection for overtime assignments?
  • Can the union file a grievance on my behalf without my permission?
  • Is any part of the local union’s collective bargaining agenda set by the national union?
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