FAQs About Unions

Polk State College is aware that several of our employees have recently received contact by individuals interested in sharing information about unions.  This appears to be related to a trend of activities at some of Florida’s colleges and universities.

Polk State College supports the right of all employees to have their voices heard; however, the College does not believe that unions are in the best interest of the institution, its employees, or the harmonious and integrated community shared at this institution. Polk State is committed to its current system of participatory governance, which enables all employee groups to share in the development of the organization’s processes, as well as provide meaningful input regarding any change to policies. Rather than a union, the College utilizes Human Resources committees and the Faculty Senate as the bodies through which staff and faculty participate and have a role in the College’s cooperative system of governance. Regardless of the type of contract an individual may hold, the College greatly values the contributions of all its employees, as each person plays a critical role in achieving the institution’s mission.

The College has developed this webpage to address some of the questions that staff and faculty may have about communication and contact from individuals who are affiliated with unions.

  1. During working hours, do I have an obligation to speak or meet with an outside individual who says they are affiliated with a union?

    No. You do not have an obligation to speak with a union organizer on campus or at home. The College does not recognize any unions. Any labor union or representative is considered an outside organization and can be treated accordingly.

  2. What about other Polk State College employees who wish to speak to me about unions?

    Solicitation on behalf of unions by employees should only be done during non-working time and should be an independent conversation by the employee doing the soliciting and the employee being solicited. The choice of whether to speak with someone about becoming a member of a union – including with a co-worker – is entirely up to you.

  3. Do I have to talk to anyone from a union if they come to my office, classroom, or stop me on campus?

    The choice of whether or not you speak with someone is entirely up to you. Florida law specifically prohibits employee organizations and their members, agents, or representatives from distributing literature during working hours in the areas where the work of public employees is performed. You should feel free to decline the conversation, reach out to the dean or supervisor for support, or call Security for assistance.

  4. How does the union get my personal information like my home address and phone number?

    The College regularly receives and responds to public records requests. Under Florida Statutes, information such as your home address and phone number is a public record (i.e., unless you qualify for one of the very specific exemptions). At this time, the College has not received, nor responded to any requests for employees’ personal information from the union.

  5. Do I have to talk to anyone from a union if they call or visit my house?

    No. You may speak with the visitor if you wish, or you may ask them to leave. If the person refuses to leave your property, then you should contact law enforcement for assistance.

  6. What is the process by which a union becomes certified to represent employees?

    To become certified by the Public Employees Relations Committee (PERC), a union must file a petition for representation with the PERC seeking an election in an appropriate unit of employees. To do so, the union must demonstrate a “showing of interest” that at least 30 percent of employees in that unit are interested in having the union representation. The showing of interest is demonstrated by the submission of signed authorization cards from individual employees indicating such interest. You are not obligated to sign an authorization card and you should think very carefully before doing so. The authorization card is a legal document and should be read very carefully before signature.

    If a sufficient percentage of the unit of employees have shown an interest, the union will file the petition, the PERC will determine the final membership of the bargaining unit, and the PERC will conduct a secret ballot election to determine the final outcome.