Collective Bargaining for Supervisory Unit SU Members
This sheet is designed to answer the most common questions SU members ask about collective bargaining. The online version has embedded links which also provide more information. If you have any additional questions, please reach out to your Employee Representative.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is collective bargaining?
An ongoing and exclusive relationship between an employer and a union in which a written contract is negotiated, implemented, and enforced with regards to the wages, hours, terms and employment and conditions of work for employees represented by the union.
What are negotiations?
A process in which two or more parties (here two) with common and conflicting vested interests come together to advocate and to discuss explicit proposals in good faith with the goal of reaching agreement.
What are the subjects that SU can bargain with the State?
Subjects of bargaining must fall under what is called, “terms and conditions of employment.” There are three subjects of bargaining: mandatory, permissive, and prohibited.
Mandatory subjects are those subjects, like wages, which must be bargained. Permissive subjects can be bargained but there is no requirement they must be. Examples can include parking rights. Prohibited subjects cannot be enforced.
Where is our current contract in this process?
Our current contract was bargained with the State in winter/spring 2018 and is in effect from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2021. For this negotiation, SU had the first meeting with the State in December 2020
How is the State’s bargaining team selected?
SU cannot speak to how the State chooses its bargaining team. Just like SU decides how to choose the SU bargaining team, the State has its own process for choosing its team, how it approaches negotiations at the table and what proposal to put forward. The Chief Negotiator is considered the agent for the Governor and has authority to speak on behalf of the Administration.
Could SU go on strike?
In any negotiations, 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 and has been since negotiations began in December 2020.
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.
How can I support our bargaining team?
If you have additional Questions
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What is the process involved in bargaining a contract with the State for our union?
Bargaining the contract is an ongoing process and includes more than just the time spent at the negotiating table. SU member input in the form of surveys, chapter meetings, and individual outreach help shape the strategy the team incorporates for negotiations.
Below is a general, condensed overview from electing member negotiators to reaching a tentative agreement.
1. SU surveys members for insight into their priorities and elect members to the bargaining team (Fall 2020)
2. Bargaining team, including APEA-AFT staff, begin researching and drafting proposed language (Fall 2020)
3. SU starts meeting with the State team at agreed upon times, dates, and locations (December 2020)
4. Proposals, and counter-proposals, are exchanged and discussed (ongoing)
5. When both sides agree on a particular topic, both sides tentatively agree (TA) (ongoing)
6. Once all open articles have reached a TA, SU negotiations present the full tentative agreement to membership (TBD)
7. Only Full Members of SU can vote on the Tentative Agreement. If you aren’t a full member yet, or are not sure, you can
download, fill out, and return your membership form here.
8. If SU members reject the full tentative agreement, SU must go back to the negotiations table and start anew.
Who is part of our bargaining team and how are they selected?
The SU bargaining team is comprised of members elected regionally by SU membership and professional staff from Alaska Public Employee Association-AFT (APEA_AFT), our state affiliate, with years of negotiation experience. There are 6 SU members elected for the bargaining team, three who are leads and three alternates from each region. Elections were held in the fall of 2020 for this bargaining team.
APEA-AFT staff include Business Manager Brian Penner; Southeast Regional Manager Jeff Kasper is a former SU Negotiator; and Southeast Field Representative Stephen Courtright, who is new to APEA, is a former state employee union leader. Together they bring years of experience, education, knowledge of state policies and procedures, and training in the art and science of negotiations.
What happens if our bargaining team and the State cannot reach an agreement?
There are two legal tools that could be triggered if SU and the State cannot reach an agreement.
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.