Unionization and Employee Supervision

The university takes a completely neutral stance on unionization and supports a fair union election process. To this end, it is important that managers and supervisors know the following:   

  • A department cannot preclude or endorse campaigning or other union-related activity, including in areas that are generally accessible to the public consistent with university policy.
  • The wearing of union-related material (such as buttons) when such items are inconsistent with an established uniform policy is a complex legal topic that balances free speech rights and employer interests and should not be met with immediate reprisal. Consult with Employee and Labor Relations prior to addressing this issue with an employee by emailing uoelr@uoregon.edu for assistance.
  • If you generally permit employees to talk about non-work-related subjects during work time, you cannot prevent employees, including those attempting to unionize, from discussing union-related matters during working time.  
  • Addressing disruptions in the workplace should be consistent and no action should be taken to influence, endorse, deter, or disrupt the unionization efforts.  
  • As always, follow the best practices for employment actions, such as:
    • Documenting performance issues, both good and bad;
    • Providing an opportunity to be heard (e.g. a meeting) and considering the employee’s response before imposing discipline;
    • Following a progressive discipline process; and
    • Using corrective action as a way to improve performance rather than punitively.  

Refer to the Student Employee Enhancement website for additional guidance and best practices for supervising student employees.

  • Union organizers do not have more access rights to spaces than any other student or employee, and so you may continue to enforce building restrictions that otherwise apply (e.g. maintaining employee-only areas of the workplace, or management-only bulletin boards, where other students or members of the public cannot enter or post), so long as such restrictions are consistently enforced and supported by the needs of the workplace and not related to union organizing. 
  • An employee group is not formally recognized as a bargaining unit until an exclusive representative is elected.  

Questions about these topics can be directed to the Employee and Labor Relations (ELR) Team at uoelr@uoregon.edu. Prior to taking employment actions, connect with your department’s HR representative to ensure best practices are being followed. For those without an HR representative, feel free to reach out to the ELR Team directly.