What Happens if the Tentative Agreement is Not Ratified?
Could SU go on strike?
If SU members reject the full tentative agreement, SU must go back to the negotiations table and start anew. This is one of the reasons why feedback from membership and participation in solidarity actions visible to the state are so essential. The goal is to reach a mutual agreement as simply as possible,
preferably at the bargaining table. The SU bargaining team is committed to bargaining an agreement that works for all SU.
There are two legal tools that could be triggered if SU and the State cannot reach an agreement.
In that case, the first step would be mediation per state statute*. Mediation is where both sides select a mutually agreeable mediator, though this can take several weeks. A mediation session is then scheduled, which can mean a delay of several months. If there is still not an agreement after this months-long process, then the next step is arbitration.
Arbitration also requires both sides to mutually agree on an arbitrator, then an arbitration session is scheduled. Like mediation, this usually results in a delay of weeks to months to get to the arbitration session. The decision of the arbitrator is binding only on the union.
Class I employees in the SU bargaining unit must submit to binding arbitration and cannot participate in a lawful strike. They include, police, fire, correctional, and some hospital employees.
Could SU go on strike?
Again, the goal is to reach a mutual agreement as simply as possible, preferably at the bargaining table. Under state law, a strike can only happen after several stages of negotiations. First, negotiators reach an impasse. This means that both sides have moved as far as they can toward a compromise and cannot reach a tentative agreement. SU would next go to mediation. Mediation is not binding on either party and if an agreement is not reached through mediation, then the next step is arbitration. If no agreement is reached, then the State can impose its “last, best final offer.” After all of this, it is up to the membership to decide if SU were to strike by taking a strike authorization vote.
*AS 23.40.190. Mediation.
If, after a reasonable period of negotiation over the terms of a collective bargaining agreement, a deadlock exists between a public employer and an organization, the labor relations agency may appoint a competent, impartial, disinterested person to act as mediator in any dispute either on its own initiative or on the request of one of the parties to the dispute. The parties may also select a mediator by agreement or mutual consent. It is the function of the mediator to bring the parties together voluntarily under such favorable auspices as will tend to effectuate settlement of the dispute, but neither the mediator nor the labor relations agency has any power of compulsion in mediation proceedings.