University of Alaska Workers to Vote on Unionization

by Jeff Richardson / jrichardson@newsminer.com

June 28, 2010

FAIRBANKS — State labor officials have confirmed enough employee interest to proceed with a unionization vote at the University of Alaska.

The Alaska Labor Relations Agency verified on Friday that at least 30 percent of employees who are part of a system-wide unionization drive have turned in authorization cards to the Alaska State Employees Association.

ALRA doesn’t release the number of cards that were validated, but the ASEA submitted 1,022 cards to be verified.

UA submitted a roster of 2,643 employees who it believes will be included in the unionization effort. The employees mostly are office workers, excluding those who are in managerial and supervisory positions.

Jean Ward, a hearing officer with the Alaska Labor Relations Agency, said both UA and ASEA were notified verbally Friday that the 30 percent threshold had been reached.

“We’re excited about it,” said ASEA business manager Jim Duncan. “We think these employees do need representation, and this shows there’s substantial support for it.

No election date has been set. Duncan said ASEA hopes for a vote in the fall.

In an e-mail, UA spokeswoman Kate Ripley stated that the university administration will encourage affected workers to participate in the election.

“The majority of employees in the proposed unit who actually vote will decide this issue — not employees who sit on the sidelines,” Ripley said. “Our job in the weeks leading up to the vote will be to make sure everyone is as informed as possible.”

The workers, who mostly are identified as classified employees, remain the last large group of unorganized workers at UA. The last unionization vote happened in 1998, when employees voted to remain unaffiliated.

Contact staff writer Jeff Richardson at 459-7518.