UVM staffers will need second vote on union question
In a contentious union drive among staffers at the University of Vermont, union supporters won in a vote taken Wednesday, but not by much and then could not decide which union organization to represent them.
UVM had worked hard to dissuade clerical and support staff to oppose the union drive. Of the 777 in the bargaining unit, 617, or nearly 80 percent, voted (not including “spoiled” ballots). Some 278, or 45 percent, took the university’s position that the union would constrain flexibility and efficiency in the workplace and voted it down.
However, 339 workers, or 55 percent, supported the drive, which sought to protect worker retention and benefits. However, two unions were on the ballot and neither received a majority, which will require a runoff vote. The NEA received 183 votes and the United Staff got 168.
The runoff will be between the two top vote getters: Either no union or the NEA. The date of the runoff has not been set.
The NEA Web site says that, “UVM staff don’t have any job protection or a voice.” It notes that UVM faculty, its police and custodial and ground staff are all unionized.
For its part, UVM administration was conciliatory after the vote and said in a statement: “At various times during the past two decades, UVM faculty and staff have voted to be represented by unions for the purpose of collective bargaining. The University administration has demonstrated its ability to advance the institution’s strategic plans while managing employees effectively in a unionized environment. We intend to maintain a work experience that combines high job satisfaction with competitive compensation and positive working conditions for all University of Vermont employees. To that end, we will continue to work effectively on behalf of our employees, through the collective bargaining process for those represented by unions, and through development and management of thoughtful policies, programs and procedures for those who choose not to be represented by a union.”