Two unions woo UA’s last ‘unattached’ employees

By Jeremia Schrock
Sun Star Contributor

It’s been a warm spring here at UAF this year, and not just because of the unseasonably warm temperatures. The increase in daylight has coincided with an increase in unionization efforts across all UA campuses. There are two separate unions vying for the right to represent university employees not currently covered by collective bargaining units. Both of them say they can do the job better than the other.

The Alaska Public Employees Association/American Federation of Teachers (APEA/AFT) and the Alaska State Employees Association for the University of Alaska (ASEA for UA) are both waging aggressive recruitment drives aimed at increasing their respective memberships. The APEA/AFT, which has represented 700 faculty members and 250 UA staff and trades workers since 1990, wants to expand its representation to include all university employees. The ASEA for UA, which represents more than 8500 state employees throughout Alaska, is making its first pitch for University of Alaska employees by targeting staff only. Faculty need not apply.

The goals of APEA/AFT and the ASEA for UA are the same; both endeavor to provide UA employees with collective bargaining power to protect them from political and fiscal instability. Where the two unions differ is in whom, specifically, they want to represent. A recent ad by the ASEA for UA claims that their union is offering to provide a “real, independent voice for UA staff” in which staff concerns come first. The not-so-subtle implication is that the APEA/AFT will be representing other university groups as well, and not just staff. The APEA/AFT has yet to release a response.

The ASEA for UA, in a letter to retiring UAF president Mark Hamilton, requested certification as the sole representation for approximately twelve-hundred and eighty-five UAF employees. In an official (and not yet verified) statement, the ASEA for UA claimed that it has the support of more than 50 percent of all UA staff.

The APEA/AFT is conducting its recruitment campaign through less official (and more traditional) channels: information and recruitment booths, newspaper advertisements and member outreach.

For more information, both unions can be contacted through their websites.

APEA/AFT: http://www.apea-aft.org/

ASEA for UA: http://www.aseaforua.org/

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