One of the University's overarching objectives is to attract, retain, and develop top talent. Every employee at the University is vital to achieving this goal and to ensuring the success of the larger institution. The University is committed to negotiating in good faith with our labor unions with the ultimate goal of maintaining a competitive employment package.
The University also is committed to providing timely, accurate information to union members as to the process and status of contract negotiations. The goal of this website is to keep employees up-to-date on the progress of negotiations as well as the University's position on specific issues as they arise.
Labor Negotiation Process
The Public Employment Labor Relations Act (PELRA) is the Minnesota state law that regulates labor relations between public employers, their employees, and the labor organizations that represent their employees. PELRA outlines the representation election process through which employees may elect an exclusive bargaining representative as well as the decertification process through which employees may elect to decertify an exclusive bargaining representative. Many of the provisions of PELRA are administered by the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services (BMS).
PELRA divides the employees of the University into 13 distinct groups for purposes of potential representation. If a majority of the employees in a defined group voting in a representation election choose to become represented, then the BMS will designate an "exclusive representative" who is legally responsible to speak on behalf of that group of employees in discussions with the University over terms and conditions of employment. Units within the University with elected "exclusive representatives" include: Law Enforcement (MNPEA); Crafts and Trades (various trades unions); Service, Maintenance, and Labor (Teamsters); Health Care (AFSCME); Clerical (AFSCME); Technical (AFSCME); Duluth faculty (UEA); and Crookston faculty (UEA).
Labor negotiations between the University and the above bargaining units occur biannually and generally begin in late spring with the goal of concluding before contracts expire at the end of the fiscal year. Each party brings proposals concerning terms and conditions of employment to the table, and negotiations continue until an agreement is reached.
In the event the parties cannot reach an agreement, PELRA provides impasse procedures. These procedures involve intervention in the negotiation process by a mediator provided by the BMS. If mediation fails, employees may vote to strike after their contract expires and after procedural and notice requirements are met.
Once the parties reach agreement, full bargaining unit members vote on whether or not to accept the terms and conditions of the new contract. If the vote is positive, the contract is signed and becomes binding. Bargaining unit contracts at the University of Minnesota are typically two-years in duration.
The Public-Employee Labor Relations Act (PELRA) provides that an employee or group of employees may petition the Bureau of Mediation Services (BMS) requesting that they investigate the employees' desire to decertify an exclusive representative. Such a petition must state that the employees in the unit no longer support the particular union as their exclusive representative. The petition must also be signed by at least 30 percent of the employees in the unit, indicating a lack of support for the current exclusive representative.
If PELRA requirements are met, the BMS will conduct a decertification election. If no other union is involved, the choices would be between the existing exclusive representative and no representation. If another union has received a 30 percent showing of support, the choices on the BMS election ballot would be between the existing exclusive representative, the other union, and no representation. In either case, a simple majority of votes cast would determine the outcome of the decertification election.
The BMS will consider a decertification election only if the exclusive representative has been in place for a period of 12 months or longer. Represented employees who have elected representation within the past 12 months must wait one full year after the election before filing a petition for decertification.
Representation Election Process
The Public-Employee Labor Relations Act (PELRA) provides that a union may petition the Bureau of Mediation Services (BMS) requesting that the BMS investigate the employees' desire to certify that union as the exclusive representative for a unit of employees. The petition must be signed by at least 30 percent of the employees in the unit.
If PELRA requirements are met, the BMS will conduct a certification election. Eligible employees will choose between "no representation" or representation by the petitioning union. If "no representation" is selected by the majority of voters, unit employees would continue to have the same terms and conditions of employment they currently enjoy. If the petitioning union is selected, wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment for unit employees would be collectively bargained by the union and the University.
The outcome of a representation election is determined by a simple majority of employees who actually VOTE in the election, regardless of the size of the bargaining unit. Low voter turnout can have a significant impact on the election. If less than a majority of eligible voters choose to vote, the choice is made by less than a majority of the employees in the unit. It is therefore critical that all eligible voters participate fully in a representation election.