Dartmouth Library Union FAQs

Below is a list of common questions in regard to the DCLWU unionization efforts. 

Updated 11/27/23



What is a union?

A union is an association of employees formed to negotiate with their employer on matters regarding terms and conditions of employment, including pay, hours, and other employment-related conditions. The union is the exclusive negotiating agent, meaning no other individual, body, or organization is permitted to work with the employer on matters relating to employment for those employees, referred to as a bargaining unit.

Union representatives negotiate with employers through a mechanism called collective bargaining. The results of this process are contained in a collective bargaining agreement (CBA), and both parties are bound by the terms of this contract during its term or until a new CBA is in place. The union remains the exclusive representative for members of the bargaining unit until and unless (1) the union disavows interest in representing the unit, or (2) bargaining unit members voluntarily sign a petition seeking to decertify the union (after which a vote would be taken).

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What is the Dartmouth College Library Workers Union? 

The Dartmouth College Library Workers Union (DCLWU) is an organization of library employees at Dartmouth that, in June 2023, voted to become affiliated with American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 93. 

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Will all library employees, including student employees, be in the union?

As part of the NLRB process, each party, both Dartmouth and the DCLWU, work  to define which employees are represented by AFSCME.  This process has resulted in the defined bargaining unit being defined as all full-time and regular part-time employees employed by Dartmouth at its libraries in Hanover and Lebanon, New Hampshire, excluding all other confidential employees, undergraduate and graduate student employees, managers, temporary employees, guards and watchmen, and supervisors as defined by the National Labor Relations Act.

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How will I know if my position is part of the union? 

 Those included in the definition of the bargaining unit will receive information directly from the DCLWU and the NLRB. 

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Can I remove myself from the collective bargaining unit?

While an individual may not remove themselves from the agreed upon  bargaining unit, they should talk with their DCLWU representative to understand their option to opt out of paying for the non-representational activities of the union.

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What are union dues? 

Union dues are a fee charged to bargaining unit members by the union and are calculated by the union to cover the costs of the union representation work, including contract negotiation, administration, and disputes. The dues may be a flat rate or a percentage of wages. They may also be used for the purpose of organizing at other employers and for making political contributions. Unions may seek to require  that members of the bargaining unit who choose not to join the union pay an "agency fee" (sometimes called "fair-share" fee), typically a small percentage less than full dues, which is calculated by the union.

Unions support themselves through the assessment of union dues or fees collected from bargaining unit members.  Although the collection of dues is often facilitated by employers through a dues checkoff card, the money paid in dues must come directly from the employee.

According to the DCLWU’s website, dues will be deducted from employees’ paychecks. 

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Will I have to pay union dues?

Unions normally seek to require that all members of the bargaining unit pay dues or an agency fee. According to the Dartmouth College Library Workers Union website, dues are expected to be collected biweekly or monthly for salaried employees. While the final cost could change, the DCLWU estimates the union dues to be around $500/year for full-time employees, around $380 for part-time employees, and around $260/year for employees working fewer than 12 hours per week, if applicable.  All union members must pay dues, regardless of if they voted, or how they voted in an election.

Although DCLWU commits to pursuing wage increases that exceed its dues amount, it remains to the bargaining process to determine what, if any, wage increases will occur.

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What has the library done recently to increase employee compensation? 

As a direct response to compensation compression concerns, library administrators performed a comprehensive wage analysis in 2022 that resulted in 97% of hourly paid employees receiving wage increases at the end of last year. This was in addition to Dartmouth’s 4% cost of living increase for all employees and additional merit increases that took effect in July 2022.

The library also increased the minimum wage for employees to $20 per hour, and in February 2023, nearly 30% of salaried employees received wage increases.

Additionally, despite a $2 million budget cut over five years to its central operating budget and the pandemic financial challenges, the library preserved all staff development funding and performed no layoffs or furloughs. 

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What is the union expected to negotiate on behalf of employees?

Unions negotiate collective bargaining agreements, which are contracts that dictate employees’ pay, benefits and other workplace issues.

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What is not up for negotiation? 

Dartmouth is committed to educating the most promising students to prepare them for a lifetime of learning and responsible leadership as well as creating a collaborative community for its world-class faculty and staff.

Dartmouth’s library employees are integral to this mission as partners in teaching, learning and research and vital members of the academic community. 

During the unionization process, and any potential negotiations, we will protect the integrity of this mission and ensure all library services remain available to Dartmouth students, faculty and staff.

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What is a collective bargaining agreement? (CBA)

The CBA is a labor contract between the union and the employer that memorializes the parties' agreements concerning wages, work hours and working conditions of members of the CBU.  Mandatory subjects of bargaining as determined by the law and the NLRB include: wages, overtime, shift premiums, grievance procedures, termination of employment, discharge and discipline. Permissible clauses may be negotiated by each party. The final Agreement lays out specific expectations between employer and employee and typically run for a period of three or four years.

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Can there be exceptions to the agreement?

Not unless defined by the collective bargaining agreement or agreed to between the union and Dartmouth.

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Who will negotiate on behalf of library employees?

Employee representatives chosen by the union will negotiate on behalf of the collective bargaining unit. Some unions will decide the representatives by a vote, others use a different process. Dartmouth will also be represented at the negotiation table.

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What do negotiations look like?

Both sides come to the negotiating table to listen to each other and understand each other's priorities and demands. There is no expectation that negotiations begin from any pre-established point or convention –either side is free to set its goals and priorities and present them for negotiation. For example, either party could propose a new grievance policy during negotiations, or the parties could agree to revise certain policies that are already in place.  

The terms of the agreement are negotiated in this way until both sides agree on a tentative agreement which is then taken to the bargaining unit for a ratification vote. If the agreement is not ratified, it is not implemented and the parties would need to return to the bargaining table.

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How long will it take to reach the first collective bargaining agreement?

It is difficult to say – the parties must continue to meet and bargain in good faith until an agreement is reached or they are at an impasse.  According to Bloomberg Law Labor Data, between 2005 and 2022 the average amount of time between an NLRB election date and first collective bargaining agreement is 460 days.

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Will the Winter Break still apply to bargaining unit members with no agreement?

All current Paid Time off (PTO) policies are in affect until negotiations are complete and more information is available. 

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Have any library supervisors been removed from the union?

No, library supervisors were not removed from the union. Supervisors are not permitted to be in a union, and they were never included in the bargaining unit certified by the National Labor Relations Board. It would be unlawful to have supervisors be part of the bargaining unit because of the inherent conflict in the union representing the the interests of employees, and supervisors representing the interests of management, among other reasons. 

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