Frequently Asked Questions
Efforts to Unionize at Seminole State College
We support the right of Faculty to have their voices heard. Our preference is to maintain a direct working relationship with our adjunct faculty – without involvement from a third party that may not understand the College or our values. This collaborative working relationship built on decades of mutual respect, trust, and direct dialogue – is one of our College’s great strengths and present our College, our Faculty, our Staff and our Students with the very best opportunity for future success and progress.
Does Florida law provide employees with any protection if they do not want to take part in union organizing activities?
Yes, Florida's Public Employees Relations Act ("PERA") specifically gives you the right to refuse to take any action in support of an employee organization, including any union organizing activities. This is the same right that protects an employee's right to join a union and engage in other protected concerted activity. The College respects your right to free choice and it will not discriminate against you because you support or oppose a union.
If employees decide to vote for the union, does that mean the College can no longer manage faculty members without the union's approval?
No. Just as PERA provides employees with rights, it also provides employers with rights. Specifically, public employers such as the College are vested with rights necessary for the management of government, including the ability to set standards, direct, and manage employees.
No. You can change your mind after signing (or not signing) an authorization card and vote against (or for) the union after you educate yourself about unionization.
- Included: Part-time instructional personnel (“adjunct faculty”) employed by Seminole State College of Florida who teach at least one college credit course at any of the following locations: Sanford/Lake Mary Campus, Center for Economic Development at Heathrow, Altamonte Springs Campus, Geneva Center, Seminole State Online, and Robert & Jane Lee Campus (Oviedo).
- Excluded: those Full-time teaching faculty, librarians, counselors, and professor/program managers covered under the collective bargaining agreement between the College and the United Faculty of Florida; all other faculty including temporary full-time instructional personnel; all full-time employees of the College who also teach a class as a part-time instructor; all administrators; all professional employees; all technical employees; all career service employees; all other part-time instructional staff not teaching at least one college credit course; or, and any other supervisory, managerial, and confidential employees.
Those employees who are “included” in the proposed bargaining unit will vote on whether or not there should be a union.
PERC (“Public Employees Relations Commission”) will conduct the vote by way of mail ballots. The ballots will be mailed to the home address for those employees “included” in the proposed unit. The ballots are mailed to the home address because it is required by law. Once the ballots are returned to PERC, it will be responsible to tally the votes.
While PERC will ultimately set the dates to mail out the ballots, and the deadline for their return, the College has suggested that the ballots go out mid-September, and be returned to PERC in early October.
By a majority of those employees who actually vote. For example, if the bargaining unit has 120 members and 80 of them turn out to vote, and the vote is 41 to 39, then those 41 employees determine the union status of all 120 members of the bargaining unit, and the union is established. If the union is established, it will be your exclusive representative, even if you voted against the union or simply decided not to vote in the election.
Yes, but not easily. Unions do not stand for reelection each year. Most unions remain the representative of the employees in the unit forever. However, the law does provide a mechanism for holding another election. In order to have such an election and decertify a union, the employees in the unit must themselves file a decertification petition with PERC, along with a 30% showing of interest, just as in the certification process. PERC will process the petition and hold another election.
Questions Regarding Communication and Access
Do I have an obligation to speak with anyone from the union if they come to my classroom, or office?
Again, the choice of whether or not to talk with someone, including a co-worker, is entirely up to you. Specifically, labor organizing rules prohibit union organizers from approaching you in places where work takes place and their interruption of your work duties is not permissible. Organizers are not allowed to be in areas such as closed office areas. They must abide by rules intended to maintain order and safety in the workplace and they may not interrupt classroom/instruction time. You should feel free to decline the conversation, reach out to your dean for support, contact Human Resources, or call security for assistance.
Do I have to talk to anyone from a union if they call me or visit me at home? How does the union get my personal information like my home address and phone number?
No. You are free to speak to them or not. There is no law or policy that requires you to speak with union representatives either at home or in the workplace, and you are free to respond accordingly. The college regularly responds to public records requests and under Florida statute, information including your home address and phone number is a public record (unless you qualify for one of several narrow and specific exemptions).
Questions Regarding Collective Bargaining
At some point, the union and the College would engage in collective bargaining for a master contract, called a collective bargaining agreement, covering you and all the employees in the bargaining unit.
It is the process by which an employer and a union negotiate wages, benefits, hours and other terms and conditions of employment for the group represented by the union.
No. The law only requires that each side engage in good faith negotiations but the law does not guarantee to employees that any particular provision be part of the contract.
How does a union pick a bargaining team? Who decides on the issues and proposals for collective bargaining on the union side? How does a union decide when to modify its proposals or agree to the administration's proposals?
Each union is its own entity with its own policies, priorities, officers, and internal politics, and each union makes its own decisions regarding these and related questions.
Does the law require that negotiations begin with the current wages, hours and working conditions and that only improvements are made to such items?
No. Each side is free to make proposals across the table that may alter the status quo. As a result of collective bargaining, you may end up with more than you have now in some areas, less than you have now, or the same as what you have now. This all depends on the negotiations.
If the parties fail to reach an agreement, and impasse is declared, and the issues would go before a special master, who acts like an arbitrator. The special master would make a recommendation, and the Seminole State College District Board of Trustees will take final action it thinks is in the best interest of all concerned on each issue before it.
There is wide variation on this depending on the parties and the issues. Some initial contracts have taken many years to complete.
No. The selection of supervisors, managers, and administrators is considered to be a managerial right and is not a mandatory subject of bargaining.
Questions Involving the Workplace with a Union
If PERC, after an election, certifies a union as the exclusive representative of a bargaining unit of which you are a member, it first and foremost means that the union exclusively represents you on all matters involving wages, benefits, hours and other terms and conditions of employment. It means the College must deal with that union on all such matters, and your supervisor may no longer deal with you individually with respect to the terms and conditions of your employment.
If employees are unionized, do I have to be a member of the bargaining unit, even if I voted no about a union?
Yes. Anyone employed in a classification included within the bargaining unit is subject to the collective bargaining agreement.
Under Florida law, you are not required to pay union dues. Nobody can force you to do so as a condition of your employment.
Generally some portion of your dues will go to a union's national headquarters to pay their salaries and administrative cost. You should be sure you understand how much of your dues would stay local, and how much would be sent away.
Depending on the union, you may have to pay a special assessment from time to time and may have to pay fees if you violate union rules.
Union dues vary depending on the union, and may be set as a percentage of your paycheck, or as a flat amount.
Typically, the union will send someone from their home office to negotiate on your behalf. This person is an employee of the union and is not affiliated with the College.
Not necessarily. It is unknown what may result from a collective bargaining process. If a union is elected to represent Seminole State College faculty, the College and the union will negotiate in good faith over mandatory subjects of bargaining; however, that does not guarantee an agreement on anything. A union cannot unilaterally increase compensation. With the union as your representative, you could earn more, less or the same.