SEIU 1199

SEIU Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if I am in SEIU?

When you began working at Cleveland State, you should have received a visit from an SEIU representative as part of your orientation. They would have informed you about your status as part of our bargaining unit, provided you information about the union and encouraged you to sign a membership application. Since you may have a bad memory, if you are a professional staff employee there is a good chance you are a part of the SEIU bargaining unit. Still not sure, just call one of your Executive Board members and ask. 

What is a fair share member?

Just because you are in the bargaining unit does not mean you are automatically a full member of the union. Completing the membership application is a voluntary decision that gives you full membership status allowing you to vote on contracts, elect union officers, serve as an officer, serve on committees, and attend and participate in meetings. However, paying your fair share is not voluntary. Fair share is a fee paid to the union by members of a bargaining unit who have not joined as full members. The fee is for services and benefits that the union has negotiated for all members of the bargaining unit. At Cleveland State University the fair share fee is the exact same amount as union dues. This means if you sign a membership application and become a full member, you will not pay one penny more.  

Why should I become a full member? What is in it for me?

You should become a full member because like it or not, terms of your employment are determined by the union contract. It does not matter if you agree with unions or do not agree, you are bound by the terms of the CSU/SEIU contract. You can choose not to be actively involved in the union but becoming a full member will allow those who choose to be involved to have more power. There is power in numbers and you want the people upholding and negotiating your contract to have as much power as they can. Plus, you are already paying for it so why not sign a membership application?

Doesn’t a Union only benefit troublemakers and people who do their job poorly? Do we really need a Union in an office environment?

The Union is about so much more than protecting members from discipline. In fact, only one article deals with discipline. The majority of our contract has to do with benefits/working conditions. Even in an office envioenment, we need our benefits protected. We have Articles in our current contract that:

• Ensure salary increases
• Guarantee vacation leave
• Guarantee paid sick time
• Designate paid holidays
• Define hours of work
• Set limits on health insurance premium increases
• Limit workloads
• Provide tuition benefits to employees, spouses and defendants
• Ensure professional development
• Create a sick leave bank
• Address campus health and safety
• Ensure job safety through seniority, bumping and layoff procedures
• Provide promotion through reclassifications
• Set guidelines for evaluations
• Provide protection during reorganizations
• Outline emergency closing procedures

Can my dues be used towards the political agenda of the Union?

A little known fact is that Union dues cannot by law be used towards the political dealings of the Union. The only money that can be used towards politics is the voluntary money that you may have withheld for COPE (Committee on Political Education). Even when an organizer is out campaigning, they must record that time separate from time they spend at their chapters. The money from which they are paid for that time spent campaigning cannot come from monies collected from dues. It comes from COPE money. So no, your dues cannot be used for the political agenga of the Union. 

Who do I call if I think something going on in my work area isn’t right?

The only way the union leadership can benefit you is if we know when you are having an issue! It is the responsibility of our membership to let a union executive board member or delegate know when something is going on in your area that does not seem right. Even if you are unsure, contact someone when something seems to be out of the ordinary. The union representatives job is to investigate the situation and determine if union action needs to be taken. 

How do I know if I should file a grievance?

If you think that management has violated your rights or the contract, or if you have questions regarding your workplace, talk with your delegate. You have the right to file a formal complaint when one of your supervisors has violated your contractual rights. This formal complaint is called a "grievance," and the system used to process this compliant is referred to in the contract as the "grievance procedure." Make a point of reading the current contract to find out exactly what your rights and responsibilities are as a professional staff employee.

If you and your delegate determine that a contract violation has occurred, together you will fill out a "grievance form." Please remember that grievance procedures have strict time limits and must be filed promptly. Not all workplace complaints are grievances. We cannot grieve for bad management but we can grieve contract violations. Winning a grievance depends on the facts and evidence the Union collects. Working closely with your delegate will greatly improve your chances of success.

What are my rights if my boss wants to discipline me?

It is the responsibility of our members to request Union representation at meetings with management. You have the right to Union representation in any meeting that could lead to discipline. These rights are known as Weingarten Rights. Even if you do not have the “right” to Union representation at a meeting, management will usually allow a delegate to sit in. It can only benefit you to ask for a delegate to be present!

Who decides the terms of our contract?

The terms of our contract are negotiated every three years. The Union holds elections for union members to represent the bargaining unit on the negotiating team. Any member of the Union can run for the negotiating team. The elected team represent the SEIU bargaining unit members and sits down with the university negotiating team to jointly work out the terms of each contract. The SEIU negotiating team consist of our union organizer, two CSU executive board members and five elected members. All negotiations take place during paid work time and your supervisor may not deny you the right to participate in negotiations if elected. 

How do I get involved in the Union?

Making sure the University is following the contract and holding them accountable is a huge undertaking. A few members cannot do it alone. We need your help. Not everyone is comfortable sitting in grievance hearings, but there is so much more delegates can do! We will find a fit for your skills and your available time. We need people to look at job searches, review job postings, update the website, create newsletters, answer member questions, research issues, or sit on one of our committees. The Union leadership hears complaints about what the Union isn’t doing but what people fail to realize is that YOU ARE THE UNION! What can you do to help us make sure our contract is upheld and make a stronger presence on campus? For more information just reach our to your executive board or any delegate