Frequently Asked Questions
What is a union? Why should I join?
A labor union is an organization made up of workers who usually belong to the same trade. They vary in size, from less than one hundred members to millions. Regardless of size, though, the organization uses collective bargaining to negotiate with employers and further its members’ interests, which can include improvements to wages, employee benefits, and working conditions.
Many unions also engage in lobbying and participate in local and national elections. The idea is that the members of a union can have more influence and achieve better results if they act together rather than individually. Members pay dues to the union to help cover the costs of these services and benefits.
What is the American Federation of Teachers (AFT)?
The American Federation of Teachers, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, was founded in 1916 and today represents 1.7 million members in more than 3,000 local affiliates nationwide. AFT currently has over 800,000 higher education members.
Five divisions within the AFT represent the broad spectrum of the AFT's membership:
In addition, the AFT represents approximately 80,000 early childhood educators and nearly 250,000 retiree members. Learn more. https://www.aft.org/highered
What are the issues AFT is addressing in higher education?
The AFT represents higher education faculty (including both full- and part-time), professional staff and graduate employees, in all sectors of higher education—public and private, two-year and four-year institutions of higher education.
The AFT Higher Education division's mission is to help our affiliates and their members prosper in the face of political, economic and technological forces challenging the most basic assumptions about the union's role on campus. Political attacks on public service in general and public higher education in particular have, in part, resulted in:
tight budgets, as due to an ongoing, systematic disinvestment in public higher education;
exploitation of part-time/adjunct and other non-tenure-track faculty, and graduate employees;
increased calls for simplistic accountability measures; and
attacks on tenure, shared governance and academic freedom.
Do we have the right to unionize? Yes.
Your Rights during Union Organizing:
You have the right to form, join or assist a union.
You have the right to organize a union to negotiate with your employer over your terms and conditions of employment. This includes your right to distribute union literature, wear union buttons t-shirts, or other insignia (except in unusual "special circumstances"), solicit coworkers to sign union authorization cards, and discuss the union with coworkers. Supervisors and managers cannot spy on you (or make it appear that they are doing so), coercively question you, threaten you or bribe you regarding your union activity or the union activities of your co-workers. You can't be fired, disciplined, demoted, or penalized in any way for engaging in these activities.
Working time is for work, so your employer may maintain and enforce non-discriminatory rules limiting solicitation and distribution, except that your employer cannot prohibit you from talking about or soliciting for a union during non-work time, such as before or after work or during break times; or from distributing union literature during non-work time, in non-work areas, such as parking lots or break rooms. Also, restrictions on your efforts to communicate with co-workers cannot be discriminatory. For example, your employer cannot prohibit you from talking about the union during working time if it permits you to talk about other non-work-related matters during working time.
Does ABOR recognize the right to organize? Yes.
Policy Number: 6-906 Policy Name: Labor Union Membership Policy Revision Dates: 2/88 Page 1 6-906 Labor Union Membership The Board does not oppose labor organization membership of employees as such membership is their right and in no way affects their employment relationship, but the Board, as a public employer functioning under the provisions of A.R.S. 15-1626, does not have legal authority to recognize a labor organization as the employees' agent for purposes of collective bargaining. In addition, neither the Board nor the universities shall engage in "meet and confer" activities. (A.R.S. 15-1626)
What is collective bargaining? Do we have the right to collectively bargain? No.
Collective bargaining is the process in which working people, through their unions, negotiate contracts with their employers to determine their terms of employment, including pay, benefits, hours, leave, job health and safety policies, ways to balance work and family, and more. Collective bargaining is a way to solve workplace problems. It is also the best means for raising wages in America. Indeed, through collective bargaining, working people in unions have higher wages, better benefits and safer workplaces.
What are we working towards with AFT in Arizona?
Meet and Confer is not the same process as collective bargaining. While the two are somewhat similar it is important to understand a few key differences. The first difference is that the style of negotiations for most Meet and Confer arrangements is generally more of a collaborative style, where Collective Bargaining is traditionally an adversarial style of negotiations. Meet and Confer is intended for managers and workers to be upfront and work together on common solutions.
The next difference is that the end result of Meet and Confer negotiations is an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding). The result of Collective Bargaining is a contract otherwise known as a CBA (collective bargaining agreement) there is a very important difference because in a contract dispute, the final authority on decision-making for a contract is a court or an arbitrator. The final decision-maker on all aspects of an MOU rests entirely with the local elected officials and their decisions are FINAL. This is probably the most important distinction because the people the public elected to represent them retain all local control and do not abdicate any authority whatsoever.
A final difference is that in government, the purpose is to work for the common good and protect the public. This is why with Meet and Confer strikes, lockouts and other means to interrupt services are strictly outlawed. In private sector collective bargaining arrangements strikes and lockouts are a part of the game. In public sector meet and confer job actions, which could in anyway interrupt service to the citizens are forbidden.
Example of Meet & Confer language for City of Flagstaff
FUSD Policy Manual Subsection H: Meet and Confer (this was amended and has been weakened) http://policy.azsba.org/asba/Z2Browser2.html?showset=allmanuals
(District-Wide Employee Communication and Input System)
The Governing Board of the Flagstaff Unified School District and its employees declare that providing a quality education for students is their mutual goal. The group recognizes that this goal is best achieved through open communications, mutual trust, understanding, and cooperative efforts of the Board, administration, and staff. It is essential that all parties trust that district resources will be utilized in a way that will provide positive working conditions for all employees while nourishing and protecting the welfare of the students. The Governing Board of the Flagstaff Unified School District requires the Superintendent to form and maintain a District-wide employee communication and input system. This system must provide equal opportunity to all regular status employees of the District to be elected to a District employee representation committee. Any committee created by this policy is not granted any authority to make binding decisions. Eligibility of candidates for the committee shall not be based upon national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, District years of service, job type, or external affiliation. Regular employees are defined as current District certificated staff, licensed professionals, administrative staff, and support (classified) staff members with regular District work schedules issued by Human Resources. Regular staff does not include temporary, short-term/stipend only, substitute staff, contractors, or sub contractors. The Governing Board expects all parties to meet in good faith and in a manner that promotes mutual trust and understanding. (Adopted: April 14, 2015)
What does it mean to be in a right to work state such as Arizona?
Arizona is a "Right to Work" state. In plain English that means that if employees decide to form a union, you may not be fired if you decide not to join. Likewise, if you are a member of a union in Arizona, and you decide to resign from the union, you may not be fired for that reason.
RIGHT TO WORK
Right to work or employment without membership in labor organization
No person shall be denied the opportunity to obtain or retain employment because of non-membership in a labor organization, nor shall the State or any subdivision thereof, or any corporation, individual or association of any kind enter into any agreement, written or oral, which excludes any person from employment or continuation of employment because of non-membership in a labor organization.
Can other educators join AFT in Flagstaff? Yes and No.
Folks from CCC or other institutions can join as at-large members. Flagstaff Unified School District employees are affiliated with the National Education Association (NEA) and we are bound by non-compete agreements. Charter schools can be represented by NEA, but the focus tends to be on public schools, not charter schools.
How do I join?
How much are dues?
The members of UUNA approved a proportional dues structure as follows:
Higher Ed. NAU Employees earning up to $36,999: $10 per month
Higher Ed. NAU Employees earning between $37,000-$69,999: $19.17 per month
Higher Ed. NAU Employees earning $70,000 and above: $38.88 per month
These funds are an incredibly important tool that supports the basic operation of the Union, including the operation of this website, and helps us advance our goals in both the near and long term.
How do I cancel my membership?
If you no longer work for NAU and would like to cancel your membership please send an email request to both firstname.lastname@example.org and to AFT Local 8002 Treasurer Kristin O'Leary, Kristin_oleary@yahoo.com requesting that your membership be canceled. Please note that your request may take up to one month to process.
What is our near-term goal?
In order to become a local and establish the necessary foundation for developing a collective voice and the ability to sit at the table, we need a minimum of 200 members (faculty, staff, and graduate students employed by the university). However, to have real power, we would need closer to 600 to 800 members. When we become a local, we would have a dedicated higher ed organizer. Our dues would also increase, but we have advocated for a progressive dues structure.