A union seeking to represent a group of employees must petition the state Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) to be certified as the exclusive representative for that specific group of employees. The process can involve either a secret ballot election or the submission of authorization cards from a majority of employees in the proposed bargaining unit.

Under the current “card check” law, a union can collect signatures from 50 percent plus one of the employees in the appropriate unit and become the exclusive representative for all employees in that unit — including those who didn’t sign authorization cards or a petition. No election is held in these cases.

Suppose a union submits signatures from at least 30 percent of the employees in a proposed bargaining unit but less than a simple majority. In that case, PERB will hold a secret ballot election to allow eligible employees to vote on whether they wish to be exclusively represented. The outcome of the election is determined by a majority vote of the employees who vote in the election, regardless of the size of the proposed bargaining unit. As with a national election, low voter turnout can have a significant impact. If less than a majority of eligible voters cast votes, the choice is made by less than a majority of the employees in the unit.

If the petitioning union is selected as the exclusive representative, then the university and union would negotiate wages, hours, and other terms of employment for these employees.