Frequently Asked Questions


What is collective bargaining?

Collective bargaining is a term used to describe the legal right of employees in a workplace to join together and negotiate with their employer over pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment.

Who has collective bargaining?

Private sector employees have had collective bargaining under the National Labor Relations Act since 1935. Federal sector employees won the right to form Unions and negotiate workplace issues in 1962, under an Executive Order signed by President Kennedy. Collective bargaining is common in higher education. Staff at thousands of colleges, universities, and numerous other state systems are Unionized. Ohio’s public employee collective bargaining law (ORC 4117) means that you and your coworkers have the legal right to Union representation. Since the law went into effect in 1983, hundreds of thousands of Ohio public workers have joined Unions.

Does AFSCME represent workers on other college campuses?

Yes. AFSCME represents nearly 200,000 employees at over 200 campuses. Workers join AFSCME because Union representation provides them with a legal structure in which they can protect their positions, improve their benefits and maintain or better their salary structures. 

You should have recieved a mailing with more information about AFSCME represented Classified University Employees. If you didn't be sure to click the "Take Action" tab and update your information.

What if there are things we already like about the university’s policies?

The university has a number of favorable policies for staff. Through a collective bargaining agreement, we can preserve benefits that we like and make sure there are not future changes, as well as bargaining over terms and conditions of our employment that need to be improved.

How much are dues? When do we start paying them?

No one will pay dues until a contract has been approved by the membership. There is a minimum, but costs of dues are decided by membership and typically come out to cost around $2 a work day.

What is AFSCME?

AFSCME is the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees and is one of the largest public sector employee Unions in the country. AFSCME is diverse, with 1.4 million members representing virtually every field of public and private services, with hundreds of thousands of professional and university employees. Equally as important as negotiations, AFSCME local unions also provide a structure to deal with issues that arise day to day.

Will we be joining the same Union as the facility workers, Local 1699?

No. Although the maintenance workers on campus are a part of AFSCME, we will form our own local, elect our own officers and negotiate our own contract. 

What are the benefits of forming a Union?

By organizing, we can improve our jobs. Union members enjoy greater benefits on the job and, according to a study released earlier this year by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, union members on average are paid nearly 20% more than nonunion members.

How will the union work?

We will run the local Union with the support of AFSCME Ohio Council 8. We will elect co-workers for leadership and committees, including our negotiating committee. We will decide what our bargaining proposals should be and what issues are most important to us. The first step is setting up a representative organizing committee to help guide the campaign. Like any democratic organization, our Union will work best when more people participate.

Will we ever go on strike?

Going on strike, which is a serious matter, only occurs if the majority of our membership decides it’s necessary. Strikes take place in less than 2% of contract negotiations. When a local Union is affiliated with a powerful statewide council and international union, it helps increase the likelihood of successfully reaching contract agreement and thus eliminating the need to strike.

Will the university oppose our efforts to form a Union?

They will make that decision. We will request that they allow staff to make this important decision without any interference. It is inherently unfair for an employer to encourage those whose livelihoods they control to vote against the Union. Out of respect for leaving this decision to the employees, many organizations have agreed to remain neutral in organizing campaigns.

Can we get something in our contract to cover us in the event of emergency closures like we are dealing with right now?

AFSCME Council 8 has been working hard over the last few weeks to reach out to each of our members. This is something that a lot of them are talking about at this time. While this is an extremely different situation, that obviously doesn’t occur often- we see now how important it is to prepare for it. Union members in each local choose what’s brought up in their contract negotiations- if that’s wanted, it will be brought up and fought for so we are more prepared for the future.

What is the process of forming a Union at Ohio University?
  1. A representative Organizing Committee is formed which is made up of volunteers from across all campuses who support the Union.

  2. Through individual conversations with all Classified Employees, the Organizing Committee will determine if a substantial number are interested in forming a Union.

  3. The collection of Union Membership Cards occurs next. Classified Employees must sign these to show substantial support to the State Employment Relations Board.

  4. SERB will then set up a secret ballot election and you will vote in the privacy of your own home. If the majority votes to form the Union, administration must legally recognize it. This means that they will be obligated to negotiate with us over pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment. 

  5. A bargaining committee will be elected by you that represents the vastness of all Classified Employees. Meetings will be held for all Classified Employees to attend so a  draft of the bargaining proposals can be made with everyone’s input.

  6. Then, we sit down with the university and negotiate our first contract and work to win the improvements we deserve. The elected bargaining committee made up of your co-workers and a professional AFSCME staff representative will serve as a chief negotiator. The representative is an expert on contracts, but he isn't an expert on your individual jobs, which is why they'll need good advocates at the negotiating table with them.

  7. Once the contract is negotiated and a tentative agreement is reached, you then vote whether or not to approve it.