ELECTIONS

Elections-850x220

Public employees in Washington State have the right to be organized.  PERC conducts representation elections to determine if public employees want to be represented by a union.

Selecting a Union

Employees do not file a petition to be represented.  Instead, the union files a petition on behalf of the employees they wish to represent.  A representative for the union is the contact during the process.  The employees in the bargaining unit only participate in the vote, if the petition results in an election.

Filing a petition

Showing:  All petitions must be filed with a showing of interest showing that at least 30% of the affected employees support the petition.

Timing:  A petition can be filed at any time for employees who have never been represented.  If employees were previously involved in a PERC election, they must wait 1 year from certification to file.

Process

When a petition is filed, PERC will request a list of the petitioned-for employees from the employer.  PERC verifies whether at least 30% of the employees who signed showing of interest cards are on the list provided by the employer.


  • If the petition is not supported by at least 30% of the employees in the proposed bargaining unit, PERC issues a deficiency notice and the petitioning union will be given an opportunity to correct the defect.
  • If the petition is supported by at least 30% of the employees, PERC conducts an investigation conference by email or phone to determine if the parties agree on certain matters. If the parties agree on all matters, then an election or cross-check will be directed.  If the parties do not agree on all matters, then a representation hearing will be held.


If the parties agree to the matters to be determined during the processing of the petition, a mail ballot election or cross-check will be held about 5-7 weeks after the petition is filed.  If some matters need to be resolved through a hearing, processing of a petition will take longer.

Determination

Mail Ballot Election

  • Ballots are mailed to employees’ homes to vote, returned to PERC, and tallied at the election.
  • Ballot choices include the petitioning union, an intervening union (if applicable), and “No Representation.”
  • The election is determined by a majority of ballots returned. A tie vote will result in “No Representation” being certified.


Online & Telephone Election

  • Voting instructions are mailed to employees’ homes. Voters are allowed to vote during a certain period of time using a specific confidential pin # assigned to them.
  • Ballot choices include the petitioning union, an intervening union (if applicable), and “No Representation.”
  • The election is determined by a majority of ballots returned. A tie vote results in “No Representation” being certified.


Cross Check of Records

  • A cross-check is only conducted when the petitioning union submits showing of interest cards from at least 70% of the employees in the proposed bargaining unit (or at least 50% of the employees for state civil service or most higher education employees).
  • PERC directs the employer to provide PERC with employment records with the signatures of the eligible employees.
  • No ballots are sent to employees. The signatures on the showing of interest cards filed with the petition are verified against the signature on the employment record.  Matching signatures count as a “yes” vote.
  • Employees are given the opportunity to request their signature not be used for the purpose of a cross-check.


Following the election or cross-check, a certification of the result is issued and the case is closed.

Hearing

A hearing will be held to resolve any dispute if the employer or union challenge or question:

  • The eligibility of any employee.
  • The appropriateness of a bargaining unit.

Change a Union

To change your representative, the union seeking to become the new representative must file the petition with PERC.  A representative of the petitioning union is the contact with PERC.  The employees in the bargaining unit do not participate in the process, except to vote, if the petition results in an election.

Filing a petition

Showing:  All petitions must be filed with a showing of interest showing that at least 30% of the affected employees support the petition.

 

Timing

A petition to change a union or bargaining representative may only be filed at certain times.

  • If the bargaining unit’s current contract is in effect, a petition to change a union may only be filed during the 30 day “window period.”
    • For state employees who bargain under Chapter 41.80 RCW, the 30 day window period begins 120 days and ends 90 days before the current contract expires.
    • For employees under all other statutes, the 30 day window period begins 90 days and ends 60 days before the contract expires.
  • If the employee’s current contract has expired, a petition may be filed at any time.
  • If PERC conducts an election no petition involving the same employees may be filed for 12 months from the certification date.

Process

When a petition is filed, PERC will request a list of the petitioned-for employees from the employer.  PERC verifies whether at least 30% of the employees who signed showing of interest cards are on the list provided by the employer.


  • If the petition is not supported by at least 30% of the employees in the proposed bargaining unit, PERC issues a deficiency notice and the petitioning union will be given an opportunity to correct the defect.
  • If the petition is supported by at least 30% of the employees, PERC conducts an investigation conference by email or phone to determine if the parties agree on certain matters. If the parties agree on all matters, then an election or cross-check will be directed.  If the parties do not agree on all matters, then a representation hearing will be held


If the parties agree to the matters to be determined during the processing of the petition, a mail ballot election or cross-check will be held about 5-7 weeks after the petition is filed.  If some matters need to be resolved through a hearing, processing of a petition will take longer.

Determination

Where a properly supported petition to change unions has been filed, PERC determines union representation by mail ballot, online or telephonic election.


Mail Ballot Election

  • Ballots are mailed to eligible employees’ and returned to PERC to be counted on a specific date.
  • Ballot choices include the name of the petitioning union, the name of the existing union, and “No Representation.”
  • Most elections with 3 or more choices on the ballot are determined by a majority of ballots returned. If one choice does not receive votes from a majority of those returning ballots, a run-off election is held between the 2 choices that received the most votes.
    • Elections under Chapter 41.56 RCW with 3 or more choices on the ballot are determined by a majority of those eligible to vote. If one choice does not receive the required number of votes, a run-off election is held between the 2 choices that received the most votes.  The run-off election is then determined by a majority of ballots returned.


Online & Telephone Election

  • Voting instructions are mailed to employees’ homes. Voters will be allowed to vote during a certain period of time using a specific confidential pin # assigned to them.
  • Ballot choices include the petitioning union, an intervening union (if applicable), and “No Representation.”
  • The election is determined by a majority of ballots returned. A tie vote will result in “No Representation” being certified.

Following the election or cross-check, a certification of the result is issued and the case is closed.

Hearing

A hearing will be held to resolve any dispute if the employer or union challenge or question:

  • The eligibility of any employee
  • The appropriateness of a bargaining unit

Remove A Union

Public Employees may petition to decertify the union that currently represents their existing bargaining unit.  If they are successful in having no representation, that bargaining unit cannot file to be represented by another union for a year from the date of the certification of “No Representation”.


Public Employees May Not:

attempt to remove only yourself or a portion of the existing unit. If you are successful in having no representation, that bargaining unit cannot file to be represented by another union for a year from the date of the certification. If you would like to be represented by a different union, see the Change representation page.

Filing a petition

The bargaining unit employee filing the petition acts as the primary contact person with us. The employees in the bargaining unit only participate in the vote, if the petition results in an election.


Showing:  All petitions must be filed with a showing of interest showing that at least 30% of the affected employees support the petition.


Timing for Filing

A petition to remove a union may only be filed at certain times.

  • If the bargaining unit’s current contract is in effect, a petition to remove a union may only be filed during the 30 day “window period.”
    • For state employees who bargain under Chapter 41.80 RCW, the 30 day window period begins 120 days and ends 90 days before the current contract expires.
    • For employees under all other statutes, the 30 day window period begins 90 days and ends 60 days before the contract expires.
  • If the bargaining unit’s current contract has expired, a petition to remove the union may be filed at any time.
  • If PERC conducts an election, no petition involving the same employees may be filed for 12 months from the certification date.

Process

When a petition is filed, PERC will request a list of the petitioned-for employees from the employer.  PERC verifies whether at least 30% of the employees who signed showing of interest cards are on the list provided by the employer.


  • If the petition is not supported by at least 30% of the employees in the proposed bargaining unit, PERC issues a deficiency notice and the petitioning union will be given an opportunity to correct the defect.
  • If the petition is supported by at least 30% of the employees, PERC conducts an investigation conference by email or phone to determine if the parties agree on certain matters. If the parties agree on all matters, then an election or cross-check will be directed.  If the parties do not agree on all matters, then a representation hearing will be held


If the parties agree to the matters to be determined during the processing of the petition, a mail ballot election or cross-check will be held about 5-7 weeks after the petition is filed.  If some matters need to be resolved through a hearing, processing of a petition will take longer.

Determination

Petitions to remove or decertify a union require a mail ballot, online or telephonic election.


Mail Ballot Election

  • Ballots are mailed to employees’ homes to vote, returned to PERC, and tallied at the election.
  • Mail ballot choices include the union and “No Representation.”
  • The election is determined by a majority of ballots returned. A tie vote results in “No Representation” being certified.

 

Online & Telephone Election

  • Voting instructions are mailed to employees’ homes. Voters will be allowed to vote during a certain period of time using a specific confidential pin # assigned to them.
  • Ballot choices include the petitioning union and “No Representation.”
  • The election is determined by a majority of ballots returned. A tie vote will results “No Representation” being certified


Following the election or cross-check, a certification of the result is issued and the case is closed.

Showing of Interest

A showing of interest must be filed with all petitions.  It is individual papers/cards from at least 30% of the employees in the proposed bargaining unit stating the desired outcome of the petition. Each card must be signed and dated.


Example – Sample language for a showing of interest card:

I [printed name] want to be represented by [name of union] for the purpose of collective bargaining.


I [printed name] no longer want to be represented by [name of union] for the purpose of collective bargaining.


The showing of interest cards:

  • Are confidential and not shared with the employer.
  • Once filed with us, may not be withdrawn.
  • Must be signed and dated within one year of the date that the petition is filed.

Reasons for a Representation Hearing

A representation hearing may held before or after an election.


A Hearing will occur before an election for 2 reasons:


  1. If there is a question about the appropriateness of the proposed bargaining unit configuration.


  • Appropriateness challenge is a parties’ claim that the employees in the proposed bargaining unit do not share a community of interest, such as common working conditions or other terms of employment.


  1. If there is an eligibility challenge that could potentially affect the outcome of the election.


  • Eligibility challenge is a parties’ claim that an employee should be excluded from the proposed bargaining unit on the basis of supervisor, confidential, or regular part-time employee status.


A hearing will occur after the election if the number of eligibility challenges would not likely affect the outcome of the election.

What to Expect at a Hearing

A representation hearing is similar to a trial before a judge.  The PERC Hearing Officers acts as both an Administrative Law Judge and Investigator.
  • Evidence – Parties must provide evidence through testimony of witnesses and exhibits regarding the disputed issues.
    Numbering Exhibits – Exhibits should be numbered UN-1, etc for the union and ER-1, etc for the employer. If there is more than one union in a case, the parties and the examiner will determine the designation prior to hearing. If there is an individual litigant in a case, his or her exhibits should be designated in a manner reflecting his or her status in the case, such as P for petitioner. The hearing officer will make clear the designation prior to the hearing. If you have a matter scheduled for hearing, you should consult with the assigned hearing officer to confirm how exhibits should be numbered.
  • Witnesses – The Hearing Officer is permitted to ask questions of witnesses, call witnesses, and request that the parties submit evidence into the record as needed.
  • Court Reporter – A court reporter is hired to transcribe all PERC hearings. Parties may purchase the transcript directly from the court reporter.

Hiring an Attorney

PERC staff will not represent you or provide you with an attorney.  Staff are strictly neutral and can only answer questions about rules and procedures, and cannot provide legal advice.
  • You may hire an attorney to represent you or review your petition, but you are responsible for paying their fees.
  • You are not required to hire an attorney to participate in a PERC hearing, if you do not it is recommended that you:
  • Study the rules and statutes
  • Review your claims and evidence
  • Make your own decision whether to hire an attorney at your own expense.

Notification of PERC Decision

After a hearing, we will issue a written decision that will be:
  • Based on the testimony and evidence presented at the hearing
  • Issued within 90 days after the closing briefs are filed.
  • Mailed to the parties of record
  • Posted on our website under “Recent Decisions”


Information about the content of a decision cannot be shared until it is officially released.

Can my employer retaliate against me?

It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee who files or supports a representation petition or gives testimony at a PERC hearing.  If you believe you have been a victim of retaliation, contact PERC about filing an unfair labor practice complaint at 360.570.7300.

If I have other questions, who should I contact?

If you have questions about PERC’s representation procedures not answered here, contact the Representation Case Administrator, Dario de la Rosa at 360.570.7328.
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