UVM staffers vote for union representation

BURLINGTON — Hundreds of University of Vermont employees have voted in favor of union representation but haven’t given a clear majority to either union on the ballot.
Technicians, research and library support staffers and other workers cast ballots on Tuesday and Wednesday on whether they wanted to organize and, if so, whether they wanted to join a union affiliated with the Vermont NEA teachers’ union or a group based at UVM called United Staff. The votes were counted on Wednesday night.
The vote for union representation was 339-278, UVM finance and administration vice president Richard Cate said in an emailed statement. The results become official in 10 business days, and then the state Labor Relations Board will begin scheduling a runoff election to decide which union or neither union, he said.
The NEA received 183 votes. United Staff received 168 votes. The option of neither union received 260 votes.
Voter turnout was high. Of the 777 employees eligible to vote, 618 voted. That’s 80 percent participation.
The vote covered non-exempt UVM workers, meaning those who can get overtime pay, who aren’t already represented by unions.
The university said that throughout the unionization effort it has encouraged employees to learn about collective bargaining through its Informed Choice website, which has questions and answers reflecting concerns raised by staff members. The university said it also emphasized the importance of participation to help ensure the outcome was determined by a majority of the affected employees.
The university, based in Burlington, has about 10,500 undergraduate students, 1,500 graduate students, 450 medical students and 1,500 full- and part-time faculty members. It said that at various times during the past two decades faculty members and staffers have voted to have union representation for collective bargaining.
“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,” Cate said in the statement. “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.”
The university said it has enjoyed “remarkable success over the last several years” and its employees are essential to realizing its vision for the future.

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