The Alaska State Employees Association announced Friday that University of Alaska staff employees will be able to vote on union representation.
The announcement came after the Alaska Labor Relations Agency notified the union that it had confirmed that 30 percent of staff had signed "show of interest" cards seeking union representation, said Jim Duncan, business manager for the union.
A date for a vote has not yet been set, but Duncan said he'd like to see that happen in the fall.
"We're pretty optimistic," he said. "We think this is good news for employees because they have the opportunity to unionize and have a united voice," Duncan said.
About 2,643 staff employees at the University of Alaska will be able to vote. That includes about 300 at the University of Alaska Southeast, more than half of its employees in Juneau.
The process that now begins includes several timelines for notifications and objections before the labor relations agency sets the final date.
Those eligible to vote include the university's non-supervisory, non-confidential employees, although it doesn't include jobs such as maintenance staff, management and faculty.
Most of those now eligible are secretaries, administrative assistants and information technology workers, Duncan said.
"These are the people who provide day-to-day support services to management and faculty," he said.
The UA staff Duncan is trying to represent perform jobs similar to those already represented by the ASEA's General Government Unit elsewhere in state government.
The UA staff who will take part in the ASEA representation election are the largest block of university employees and are the last major group of workers not to be unionized, he said.
Staff last voted on union representation about 10 years ago, but this is the first time the ASEA has sought to organize them, Duncan said.
ASEA currently represents 8,000 administrative, technical and professional staff across the state. ASEA is affiliated with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, representing university staff at more than 200 major university and higher education institutions and has 1.6 million members nationwide.
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