Any group of local or state employees may petition to form labor organization. If 30% or more employees provide an interest card showing they want to join or create an organization to represent them, a petition for representation may be filed with the Public Employees Relations Commission (PERC). They will investigate and decide if your group is an appropriate group.
If you are an appropriate group, an election is held among all members of the proposed group. Starting in 2019, if more than 50% of the proposed members sign interest cards, PERC will check the cards against a list of employees and will certify the group if more than 50% submitted interest cards.
Elections may be held by ballot, mail or telephone. If a majority of employees vote to join the organization, the PERC will certify the organization as the labor unit. The employer and the bargaining unit move forward with bargaining their first contract.
Organizing a new unit is typically completed within 60 to 120 days.
Delays can occur when either the employer, some of the employees or PERC question whether all of the employees belong within the particular unit. It would be unusual, for example, for management employees to be in the same bargaining unit as the people they supervise. Typically, first line supervisors stay with their lower employees, mid-tier managers are generally in their own unit, but job titles don’t control, duties control.
For example, in police labor units, typically officers and sergeants are in the same labor organization. Lieutenants, Captains and Commanders are in their own units, but this isn’t always the case. Some agencies they have officers classified as sergeants doing management duties instead of first line supervising and in other departments lieutenants are really acting as first line supervisors. In these situations, it is sometimes possible that sergeants will be grouped with the managers, but in the other department lieutenants kept with the officers.
Identifying which unit is appropriate sounds confusing, but it recognizes that supervisors stay with their employees with managers in their own groups. This protects the employer to ensure no bias in work and discipline and protects the employees so they know they can speak freely without managers knowing their position.
We will talk about switching labor organizations on another day.