How Do We Negotiate with the State?
A Brief Overview
Every three years, each region of the supervisory union selects a primary and alternate negotiator. This group of six union members and at least one professional negotiator from our state affiliate, the Alaska Public Employees Association (APEA), form the negotiating team.
This team reviews the existing collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and collects feedback on what changes would benefit the members. They take this feedback and put together proposals for changes to the CBA.
The state has a negotiating team selected from the Division of Personnel and Labor Relations that looks at the prior CBA and looks for changes that would benefit the state. Their reasoning for these requests varies; some might ease the workload or standardize processes and benefits. Some might target reducing costs to the state.
These two negotiating teams come together to renew the prior three-year CBA. Usually, over a few months, starting in December prior to the end of the contract, they meet and exchange proposals and try to come to an agreement.
One critical factor in these negotiations is the need to bargain "in good faith." This means that proposals and behavior should not be arbitrary and capricious and should always aim to reach an agreement. When the parties bargain in good faith, they do not make proposals with the intent to damage the other party or to spite the other negotiators or the people they represent. Bargaining in good faith is the cornerstone of mutually beneficial relationships between the organization and its workers.
An agreement reached by the two teams is called the tentative agreement (TA). To understand what happens next, the section about tentative agreements.