Dartmouth Library Union FAQs
Below is a list of common questions in regard to the DCLWU unionization efforts.
- What is a union?
- What is the Dartmouth College Library Workers Union?
- Will all library employees, including student employees, be in the union?
- How will I know if my position is part of the proposed union?
- Can I remove myself from the collective bargaining unit?
- How will I know when the NLRB schedules an election?
- Who is eligible to vote?
- What are union dues?
- Will I have to pay union dues?
- What has the library done recently to increase employee compensation?
- If employees vote in favor of a union, will wages increase?
- Will I still get a raise during union negotiations?
- What else would the union negotiate on behalf of employees?
- What is not up for negotiation?
- AUTHORIZATION CARDS
- THE UNIONIZATION PROCESS
- POST ELECTION
A union is an association of employees formed to negotiate with their employer with respect to 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).
The Dartmouth College Library Workers Union (DCLWU) is an organization of library employees at Dartmouth that, in April 2023, chose to become affiliated with American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 93. The requisite petition for representation was submitted to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on behalf of the DCLWU on April 18th, 2023.
As part of the NLRB process, each party, both Dartmouth and the DCLWU, work to define which employees are represented by AFSCME. This process will result in a defined bargaining unit.
Dartmouth is required to provide information about those positions in the proposed bargaining unit to the NLRB in response to any petition for representation that is filed. The union will also have access to this information, which includes job classification and, employee names, addresses, cell phone numbers, and personal email addresses. Those included in the definition of the bargaining unit will receive information directly from from the DCLWU and the NLRB.
A Notice of Petition for Election will also be posted on the Human Resources website.
Dartmouth fully supports the opportunity for employees to participate in the NLRB process. While an individual may not remove themselves from the agreed upon bargaining unit, they do have the opportunity to vote on whether the union will be created. If included in the bargaining unit, you will receive notification of the election including information about the date and time of that election.
If included in the bargaining unit, you will receive notification from Human Resources about the election, including information about the date, time, and location of that election.
Employees who are part of the proposed bargaining unit can vote in the election. The outcome of the election is determined by a simple majority of eligible voters who actually vote, not the majority of those eligible to vote. The result of the vote is binding on all individuals in the bargaining unit – regardless of how they voted or whether they voted – as well as those who occupy union-represented positions in the future.
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.
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.
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. The library also added a staff engagement liaison to support professional and career development, community building, staff engagement and DEI efforts.
Any pay increases or other changes to benefits packages must be negotiated between the union and Dartmouth.
Should an election be successful, the college will immediately enter into negotiations with the Collective Bargaining Unit (CBU). Negotiation times vary, but 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. Any wage increase could only take effect once a Collective Bargaining Agreement is in place.
Unions negotiate collective bargaining agreements, which are contracts that dictate employees’ pay, benefits and other workplace issues.
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 research and co-educators in teaching and learning who inspire ideas in inspiring environments.
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.
What is an authorization card?
An authorization card is used to gather support for union representation. At least 30% of the interested workforce are required to sign authorization cards for the NLRB to approve and schedule an election.
Does signing an authorization card mean I have to support the union?
No. You are able to vote either in support for or against union representation even if you signed an authorization card. Your signature simply indicates your support at that time. You also retain the right to revoke your authorization card.
Can I vote if I've not signed an authorization card?
Yes. You are able to vote either in support for or against union representation even if you have not signed an authorization card, as long as you are a member of the proposed collective bargaining unit at the time of the election.
Step 1: Union Authorization Cards
Union authorization cards are written declarations signed by members of the potential collective bargaining unit in support of forming a union. The authorization cards are collected as part of a unionization drive to demonstrate interest in having a union serve as the exclusive bargaining agent for the collective unit. The union must present cards from at least 30% of the proposed bargaining unit to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to request a secret ballot election. Once an authorization card is signed, , the union can use it to show sufficient interest in unionization to seek the NLRB election; however, signatories are free to vote however they wish in the election.
Step 2: Representation Petition
Once the union has received signed authorization cards from at least 30% of the proposed bargaining unit they may send a formal request to the NLRB to determine by secret-ballot election whether a majority of individuals in the proposed bargaining unit wish to be exclusively represented by a union for the purposes of collective bargaining. The NLRB region representing New Hampshire is Region 1: Boston.
The employer is required to provide information about those in the proposed bargaining unit to the NLRB in response to any petition for representation that is filed. The union will also have access to this information, which includes job classification, employee, names, addresses, cell phone numbers, and personal email addresses.
Step 3: Elections
Once a preliminary investigation has concluded that there is sufficient evidence indicating support for unionization for an appropriate bargaining unit, the NLRB Regional Director would direct a secret-ballot election to be held on a specific date within specific hours at accessible points on campus. The election would permit library employees to exercise their free choice, respecting their privacy in an environment free of coercion or pressure.
The NLRB representatives would oversee all aspects of the secret-ballot election, the outcome of which would be decided by a simple majority. This means if, for example, 50 out of 100 eligible library employees voted, the result for all 100 would be determined by 26 voters. As in political elections, those who do not vote leave their fate in the hands of those who do.
Who gets to vote in the election?
Eligible voters are people who are part of the defined voting unit at the time of the election. The outcome of any election is determined by a majority of eligible voters who actually vote, not the majority of those eligible to vote. The result of the vote is binding on all individuals in the bargaining unit as well as those who occupy union-represented positions in the future.
If I am in the CBU, does this mean I am obligated to vote in the election?
No, but we encourage everyone who is eligible to vote in the election to do so because the outcome affects everyone in the bargaining unit. The outcome will be determined by the majority who cast a vote. If you are in the CBU and do not vote you will be directly affected by the outcome.
If I am not in the CBU, can I vote in the election?
No, eligible voters are people who are part of the defined voting unit at the time of election.
Step 4: Election Results
If the majority voted against union representation, after certification of the election a new election could not be held for one year. As is true currently, without a union as the elected representative, Dartmouth would be able to continue working with individuals, on matters regarding compensation packages.
If the majority voted for union representation, after certification of the election union representatives would enter into the collective bargaining process to determine the collective bargaining agreement, which both parties would be legally bound to honor. The union would be in place for at least one year, in accordance with the NLRB ruling, and can only thereafter be changed or removed through a decertification process involving the NLRB.
What happens if the majority votes in favor of union representation?
If the majority of eligible votes cast (50% plus 1) are in favor of union representation, the union becomes the sole representative of the collective bargaining unit. Representatives from that group will be selected to represent the group in negotiations with the employer on conditions relating to the work environment. These may include allowable work time, benefits, and grievance procedures. These will not include conditions not related to the individuals' terms and conditions of employment.
What happens if the majority votes against union representation, and how soon can another union vote take place?
Once the voting results are certified, Dartmouth would continue to respond to employee concerns through existing mechanisms. Twelve months would have to pass before another election for union representation could be held, if 30% of the proposed collective bargaining unit sign authorization cards and petitioned for another election.
Can we vote a union out?
Yes, but a union decertification election is barred by the NLRB for one year after the original vote. Further, if the employer and union reach a collective bargaining agreement, a decertification election cannot be requested in the first three years of the collective bargaining agreement, except for during certain time-periods post agreement.
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.
Can there be exceptions to the agreement?
Not unless defined by the collective bargaining agreement or agreed to between the union and Dartmouth.
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.
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.
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.