Labor Relations – Representation


In the state of Washington, several categories of state employees have the right to request that a union represent them for purposes of collective bargaining. Washington State University (WSU) respects your ability to make your own choice, and wants to assure you that we will respect your decision. This information is in response to the many general questions about union organizing activities and questions about representations and membership that we have received from WSU employees. Accordingly, we ask that you take a moment and consider the information below if you have questions about making a choice about union representation.

Representation FAQs
Representation Cases
Previous Representation Cases

If you have additional or specific questions not addressed below, or if you have experienced issues regarding your right to make an informed decision, you may contact Kendra Wilkins-Fontenot, Labor Relations Officer at 509-335-4521 or the Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) Representation Case Administrator directly at 360-570-7328.



Representation FAQs

  1. What types of representation cases can be filed?
  2. Who can file a representation petition?
  3. How long does it take to process a representation petition?
  4. Who selects if a group of employees will be represented by a union?
  5. What happens when I sign a union authorization card?
  6. Does my choice to sign or not sign a Union authorization card, mean I have already cast my vote if an election takes place?
  7. If I signed an authorization card, and would like to revoke it, what should I do?
  8. How does an election actually take place and what will be my choices on the ballot?
  9. What happens after a cross-check or election tally has been completed?
  10. Can WSU make changes to my working conditions after a petition regarding representation has been filed?
  11. What are my rights if a union representative wants to talk to me about joining a union during working hours at my work location?
  12. What can I do about union representatives coming to my home?
  13. What can an employee who is not in favor of union representation do during union organizing efforts?
  14. If my coworkers voted for a union and PERC certifies a bargaining unit that includes my position, will I automatically become a member of the union?
  15. What does it mean to be represented by a union? How does this affect me?
  16. If I am a Temporary/Hourly employee, do I have to be part of a bargaining unit?
  17. Will the Contract between WSU and the union that represents my position include all of the current policies and employee codes that are now in place if my position is not a represented position?
  18. If my Bargaining Unit votes to decertify and are no longer represented by the union, what rules will govern my position?
  19. Will my wages and benefits change if my position is represented by a union?
  20. Would I have to pay unions dues or fees, even if I don’t want to be unionized?
  21. If PERC certifies a union as the exclusive bargaining representative of a unit of WSU employees, when will there be another election?
  22. How long does the Representation case process take?
  23. How do I choose how I want to be represented?
  24. Who may I contact if I have questions or need assistance?

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1. What types of representation cases can be filed?

The Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC), conducts representation elections or cross check tallies to determine if public employees want to select, change or remove union representation.

  • Employees who are not represented by a union, may file a representation case to select a union to represent them.
  • Employees who wish to be represented by a different union may file a representation case to change their union representation.
  • Employees who no longer wish to be represented may file a representation case to remove (decertify) a union.

Specific information on the type of Representation Cases that may be filed can be found on the PERC website or in WAC 391-25-010.

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2. Who can file a representation petition?
Labor Organizations may file to be certified as the exclusive bargaining representative of a  particular group of employees. Individual employees may only file to remove or decertify their existing bargaining representative for the whole Bargaining Unit.

Employers may only file under limited circumstances as described in WAC 391-25-090.

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3. How long does it take to process a representation petition?

If all parties agree to the matters that need to be determined during the processing of the petition, an election will be held about 6-8 weeks after the petition is filed. When there is a matter that needs to be determined by a hearing, a case will take longer to complete.

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4. Who selects if a group of employees will be represented by a union?

The employees in a group choose their own representation. PERC conducts secret-ballot elections in which all members of the group have a choice of voting for or against a union. Under some laws PERC can certify a group as union represented on the basis of the authorization cards, if the union has over 50% support in the group.

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5. What happens when I sign a union authorization card?

If someone requests that you sign a union authorization card, you are free to sign or not to sign the card without fear of reprisal from either the union or WSU. WSU will not request any information from you about your decision about signing an authorization card. We respect your right to authorize or not authorize a union to represent you.

After you sign an authorization card, and if the union files a petition to represent a group of WSU employees that includes your position, the PERC will count the authorization cards sent to them by the union and based on the amount of cards received, determine whether to certify the group of employees, hold an election, or dismiss the petition:

  • If the percentage of valid authorization cards amounts to less than 30% of the proposed group of employees, the union has not submitted enough interest to initiate the process of certifying a new bargaining unit.- WAC 391-25-110
  • If the percentage of valid authorization cards is between 30% and 50%, PERC will facilitate a ballot vote to allow employees to elect or not elect representation. A simple majority of those who vote (50% + 1) will determine represented status for all civil service employees included in the proposed bargaining unit. – WAC 391-25-530
  • If a majority of employees in the petitioned for unit submit authorization cards, PERC may initiate a cross-check to verify signatures on the authorization cards are those of the employees in the petitioned for unit. Upon completion of the cross-check process, PERC may automatically certify the bargaining unit as covered by the petitioning unit without offering an opportunity for the civil service employees to vote for or against representation in an election. – WAC 391-25-396

You have the right to sign a union authorization card. Withdrawal or revocation of your authorization card is only allowed under certain circumstances when a cross check is contemplated by PERC as outlined in WAC 391-25-396. If you have questions about signing or revoking an authorization card, contact the PERC Representation Case Administrator at 360-570-7328 or via PERC website.

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6. Does my choice to sign or not sign a Union authorization card, mean I have already cast my vote if an election takes place?

No. In an election situation, employees vote via secret ballot their choice to be represented or unrepresented. Employees are not required to vote to unionize because they signed an authorization card. Alternately, employees may vote to unionize although they did not sign an authorization card.

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7. If I signed an authorization card, and would like to revoke it, what should I do?

WAC 391-25-410 states that the agency, PERC, shall honor a valid revocation of authorization contained in an individual card or letter signed by the employee and furnished to the agency by the employee. For information contact the Representation Case Administrator at the PERC at 360-570-7328.

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8. How does an election actually take place and what will be my choices on the ballot?

The Secret Ballots are mailed to employees’ homes to vote from the PERC, returned to the PERC, and tallied on a specific date. Instructions on how to complete the ballot will be posted in the event of an election. Mail ballot choices will be for representation by a union or no representation. The election is determined by a majority of ballots returned. A tie vote results in “No Representation” being certified.

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9. What happens after a cross-check or election tally has been completed?

If a party in the case believes specific conduct has improperly affected the results of the cross-check or election, they may file an Objection within seven (7) days of the conclusive tally being issued. Objections can “appeal” rulings made by the Hearing Officer or Executive Director at PERC, allege errors in the election or cross-check procedure, or allege misconduct by a party which improperly affected the outcome.  – WAC 391-25-590

If no objections are filed, the Executive Director at PERC issues a certification of the tally results eight (8) days after the tally is issued.

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10. Can WSU make changes to my working conditions after a petition regarding representation has been filed?

No. In accordance with WAC 391-25-140, changes of the status quo concerning wages, hours or other terms and conditions of employment of employees in the Bargaining Unit or proposed Bargaining Unit are prohibited during the period that a petition is pending before the PERC.

For currently represented employees, in accordance with WAC 391-25-140, when a petition is filed that involves employees who are currently represented:

  • WSU is required to suspend negotiations with the incumbent union on a successor Collective Bargaining Agreement (Contract) involving employees affected by the petition.
  • WSU and the incumbent union may proceed with negotiations covering employees not affected by the petition, and shall resume negotiations on a successor agreement covering the affected employees after the question concerning representation is resolved if the incumbent exclusive bargaining representative retains its status.

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11. What are my rights if a union representative wants to talk to me about joining a union during working hours at my work location?

You have the right to accept literature from the union representative, and set up a time to discuss joining a union during your breaks or meal periods in detail. You may also ask the union representative to leave or contact your supervisor or Human Resource Services at 509-335-4521 for assistance.

Union representatives may have access to employees in appropriate areas on University property, so long as the union representatives are not present in restricted areas without permission. University policies and procedures and all WSU Contacts state that employee rest and meal periods are non-work time for the purposes of union access to employees. As with any solicitation by an outside entity, solicitation may not negatively impact the productivity of our staff while they are performing their duties for WSU.

Additionally, in accordance with WAC 391-25-436 , while a notice of election is posted, individuals can only conduct campaigning actives in public/non-work areas during non-work time and as long as they do not disrupt operations. The State of Washington also prohibits the use of University resources for personal gain (RCW 42.52.160). Therefore, even if a university employee is participating in the campaigning they may not borrow or use University property for purposes unrelated to official University activities or authorize the free use of University property under their control to anyone for purposes unrelated to official WSU activities. BPPM 20.37 & BPPM 10.21. University resources also includes employees time during work hours.

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12. What can I do about union representatives coming to my home?

WSU does not have control over contact the union has with you outside of the work environment. When off work, you are an individual citizen and may choose your level of contact with the union as with any other individual or organization that comes to your home.

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13. What can an employee who is not in favor of union representation do during union organizing efforts?

Employees who oppose union representation have the same rights as a union member or union supporter. Employees may freely discuss facts, experiences and opinions with fellow employees. Just as union representatives and union supporters, such discussions should not be held in the workplace during work time, however.

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14. If my coworkers voted for a union and PERC certifies a bargaining unit that includes my position, will I automatically become a member of the union?

Yes. Employees within the certified Bargaining Unit will become union members, regardless of how they voted or if they voted in the election.

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15. What does it mean to be represented by a union? How does this affect me?

If you are represented by a union, your wages, benefits, hours of work and other terms of employment must be negotiated between the university and your union, and formally outlined in a Contract.

Current Collective Bargaining Agreements:

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16. If I am a Temporary/Hourly employee, do I have to be part of a bargaining unit?

Per WAC 391-35-350, temporary/hourly employees who, during the previous twelve months, have worked more than 350 non-student hours, are performing similar work as Bargaining Unit employees and who remain available for work on the same basis as Bargaining Unit employees are to be included in the Bargaining Unit.

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17. Will the Contract between WSU and the union that represents my position include all of the current policies and employee codes that are now in place if my position is not a represented position?

The Contract terms supersede specific provisions of any institution policies, employee code or WAC that address the same subject, unless otherwise negotiated. Therefore, the terms of the Contract are applied even if WSU policies, code, or WACs about the same subjects in the Contract are different than those contained in that Contract.

Current Collective Bargaining Agreements:

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18. If my Bargaining Unit votes to decertify and are no longer represented by the union, what rules will govern my position?

If your Bargaining Unit is decertified, your position will be governed by the same rules as other non-represented Civil Service employees. Specific provisions of the these rules are included in the WSU Business Policies and Procedures Manual and the WAC.

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19. Will my wages and benefits change if my position is represented by a union?

Represented employees’ wages are determined by the Contract they are covered under, negotiated between the University and the represented employees exclusive representative. Non-represented classified employees’ wages are determined at the state level.

Represented

WSU/PSE Contract Article 44: Compensation

Wage Scale – General Service Salary Schedule

WSU/WSU Police Guild Contract Article 24 Compensation

Wage Scale – Appendix A  Effective July 1, 2016

WSU/WFSE Contract Article 24: Compensation

Wage Scale – General Service Salary Schedule

Non-Represented

Wage Scale – General Service Salary Schedule

Health Care Benefits are negotiated separately by the Governor’s Office representative and are the same for represented and non-represented staff.

Current Collective Bargaining Agreements:

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20. Would I have to pay unions dues or fees, even if I don’t want to be unionized?

Yes. Pursuant to the State Collective Bargaining Law, state collective bargaining agreements may contain a union security provision requiring, as a condition of employment, the payment of a monthly agency shop fee (RCW 41.80.100). WSU’s current Collective Bargaining Agreements do include a union security clause.

Once a union is selected, all employees represented by a union having a collective bargaining agreement that includes a “union security” provision must either pay union dues, or “agency” or “representation” fees. The amount of dues and representation fees are determined by the union.

For Specific questions regarding the amount of dues you will pay each month, contact the respective union representatives directly.

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21. If PERC certifies a union as the exclusive bargaining representative of a unit of WSU employees, when will there be another election?

Once a union is certified by PERC as the exclusive representative of a Bargaining Unit of employees, it will likely remain so unless the majority of employees in the Bargaining Unit vote to decertify the union pursuant to the procedures established by PERC, under the special provisions for state civil service employees found in WAC 391-25.

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22. How long does the Representation case process take?

If all parties agree to the matters that need to be determined during the processing of the petition, a mail ballot election or cross-check will be held about 5-7 weeks after the petition is filed. When there is a matter that needs to be determined by a hearing, a case will take longer to complete.

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23. How do I choose how I want to be represented?

The decision to vote for representation or non-representation is a personal choice. Know your choices, be informed and know what rules will govern your position based on your choice.

Civil Service non-represented staff personnel matters are governed under the provisions of:

Represented staff personnel matters are governed under the provisions of the Contract. If the union already has an existing Contract with WSU, any new units will be governed under that Contract.

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24. Who may I contact if I have questions or need assistance?

If you have additional or specific questions not addressed above, or if you have experienced issues regarding your right to make an informed decision, you may contact:

University Contacts

Kendra Wilkins-Fontenot
Labor Relations Officer
509-335-4522
kfonten@wsu.edu

Joel Peterson
Human Resources Assistant
509-335-9421
joel.peterson@wsu.edu

The Human Resources Consultant for Your Area.

PERC Contact

Dario de la Rosa
Representation Case Administrator
360-570-7328
dario.delarosa@perc.wa.gov

Union Contact
Union Representatives

Public School Employees
Washington Federation of State Employees
WSU Police Guild

Additional FAQs regarding Representation Cases can be found on the PERC website.

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Representation Cases

Unit DescriptionCase Filed with PERCPERC Case NumberCase Documents
Bargaining Unit 16

All full-time and regular part-time custodians and maintenance custodians of the Washington State University Tri-Cities Campus, excluding supervisors, confidential employees and all other employees.

Union: Public School Employees of Washington

Election Timeline:
Ballots mailed by PERC - May 3, 2017
Ballots due back to PERC - May 26, 2017
Tally of ballots conducted by PERC - May 30, 2017
March 28, 2017128869-E-17Petition

Notice to Employees

Notice of Representation Election

Investigation Statement

Ballot Instructions
Bargaining Unit 18

All full-time and regular part-time non-supervisory employees in Facilities Operations, Custodial Services Unit, at the Pullman campus of Washington State University, excluding supervisors, confidential employees and all other employees.

Union: Public School Employees of Washington

Election Timeline:
Ballots mailed by PERC - April 6, 2017
Ballots due back to PERC - May 1, 2017
Tally of ballots conducted by PERC - May 2, 2017
March 6, 2017128831-E-17Petition

Notice to Employees

Notice of Representation Election

Investigation Statement

Ballot Instructions
Bargaining Unit 13 and Bargaining Unit 19

Proposed Unit Description:

All full-time and regular part-time non-supervisory employees in the Construction Services, Maintenance and Utilities Divisions within the Facilities Operations Department of Washington State University and all employees at the Washington State University Pullman Campus in the Facilities Operations Waste Management Department, excluding supervisors, confidential employees, and all other employees.

Union: Washington Federation of State Employees
October 28, 2016128521-E-16Petition

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Previous Representation Cases

 

Unit DescriptionCase Filed with PERCPERC Case NumberCase Documents
All employees at Washington State University Pullman campus in the Facilities Operations Waste Management department.

Union: Washington Federation of State Employees
June 1, 2016128222-E-16Notice

Petition

July 19, 2016 Notice of Representation Election

Ballot Instructions for Representation Election

July 20, 2016 Amended Investigation Statement

August 25, 2016 Tally of Election

October 3, 2016 Certification
Bargaining Unit 1

All full-time and regular part-time civil service
employees of Washington State University Western Washington and certain employees of the Wenatchee Tree Fruit
Research and Extension Centers, excluding confidential
employees, internal auditors, and all other employees.

Union: Washington Federation of State Employees
April 2, 201527141-E-15-3932Notice

Petition

May 8, 2015 Notice of Representation Election

May 8, 2015 Investigation Statement

June 12, 2015 Tally of Election

August 11, 2015 Decision 12396-PSRA

August 18, 2015 Decision 12396-A-PSRA
Bargaining Unit 17

All full-time and regular part-time employees at
the Washington State University Spokane Campus in
the Facilities Operations Division, excluding
supervisors, confidential employees, and all other
employees.

Union: Washington Federation of State Employees
March 18, 201527105-E-15-3924Notice

Petition

April 10, 2015 Notice of Representation Election

April 10, 2015 Ballot Instructions for a Representation Election

April 10, 2015 Investigation Statement

May 8, 2015 Tally of Election

May 19, 2015 Decision 12338 - PSRA
Bargaining Unit 14

All full-time and regular part-time employees of
the Steam Plant at Washington State University,
excluding the Supervisors, Confidential Employees
and all other employees.

Union: Teamsters Union, Local 690
April 15, 2015 21760-E-08-3366 April 15, 2015 Certification Withdraw Request - Disclaimer of Interest

May 4, 2015 Decision 10136-A-PSRA
All full-time and regular part-time non-supervisory
employees in Facilities Operations, Custodial Services
Unit, at the Pullman campus of Washington State
University, excluding supervisors, confidential
employees, and all other employees

Union: Public School Employees of Washington
June 11, 201426522-E-14-3875 Notice

Petition

July 11, 2014 Investigation Statement

August 21, 2014 Decision 12143-PSRA

September 17, 2014 Amended Investigation Statement

October 1, 2014 Tally of Cross Check

October 10, 2014 Decision 12143-A-PSRA
Bargaining Unit 13

All full-time and regular part-time nonsupervisory
employees in the Construction Services, Maintenance
and Utilities divisions within the Facilities
Operations Department of Washington State University,
excluding supervisors, confidential employees and all
other employees.

Union: Washington Federation of State Employees
March 15, 2013 25539-E-13-3777 Notice

Petition

September 17, 2014 Notice of Representation Election

October 17, 2014 Tally of Election

October 27, 2014 Decision 12048-B-PSRA

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