Collective Bargaining at The University of Iowa

Some classifications in the Merit and Graduate Assistant categories and professional tertiary health care employees are covered by collective bargaining agreements. Employees can determine if their classifications are covered by one of the collective bargaining agreements listed below by reviewing Appendix A of the AFSCME contract (Merit), Section 2 of the COGS contract (Graduate Assistants), and Section 2 of the SEIU contract (professional tertiary health care).

Employee Participation in a Unionized Environment

The University strives to create and maintain a collegial relationship with staff in which they have a voice in the governance structures of the University. It is important, however, to recognize and understand the differences between unionized and non-unionized staff, and the limitations this distinction creates in regard to employee participation in governance activities at the local unit or University level.

As one aspect of our collegial relationship with staff, the University has a long tradition of involving non-organized staff in the Staff Council, through which central administration routinely seeks advice and counsel on employment related policies and issues. The Faculty and Staff Budget Committee is used as a means for faculty and non-organized staff to provide input into the University's budget process and decisions. Local staff councils may be used in colleges and divisions to provide advice and counsel on employment related issues specific to that unit. In addition, the University can also work with individual non-organized employees directly with regard to their individual terms of employment.

Employees represented by a union in collective bargaining operate under a different framework for representation that is established by Chapter 20 of the Code of Iowa, and administered by the Iowa Public Employment Relations Board (PERB). When a union is certified by PERB to represent a group of employees in collective bargaining, the union becomes the exclusive representative of staff regarding their terms of employment. In particular, exclusive representation applies to the following topics:

  • wages
  • seniority
  • insurance
  • hours of work
  • vacations
  • transfers
  • holidays
  • layoff procedures
  • overtime
  • evaluation procedures
  • supplemental pay
  • health and safety
  • dues deduction
  • grievance procedures

In addition, there are other topics that by practice have been negotiated with the unions, such as the scope and structure of labor management committees, and terms of discipline and discharge.

Topics reserved for exclusive representation by the union cannot be negotiated directly with employees, either individually or in any other forums. Therefore, the University must exclude contract covered staff from shared governance activities and discussions that address subjects reserved exclusively for the union and collective bargaining.

In practical terms, the University can involve staff in governance activities that do not fall within the scope and context of collective bargaining. However, we must be prepared to draw and maintain a clear distinction with those topics that are reserved for the union in collective bargaining. In governance activities and committees intended to provide staff participation, this requires us to establish and control the boundaries of what can and cannot be discussed. I would encourage you to consult with your Senior Human Resource Representatives regarding specific applications related to staff governance activities and the mandatory subjects of bargaining.

Our goal is to value the participation of all staff; however, we must also recognize the union’s role and rights to negotiation on certain topic areas. This requires a clear understanding of these concepts.


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The University of Iowa
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Iowa City, IA 52242-1911