Why should I join Local 965, UA-Fayetteville Education Association?
The most important reason to join a union is to foster change at the workplace through an amplified voice of the workforce. The power of any union to enact an agenda of equity, fair compensation and workplace safety depends on the strength of its membership. The local already is engaged in campaigns to ensure that all workers are paid a living wage, to give voice to those who are concerned with guns on campus, among other issues.
That Local 965 belongs to the Arkansas Education Association/National Education Association has powerful advantages, both in the workplace and personally.
What are the goals of Local 965?
Local 965 represents the interests of University of Arkansas employees in Fayetteville — full time and part time — from faculty (tenure and tenure track to instructors and adjuncts) to educational support professions (i.e. staff) to graduate teaching and research assistants. The Local is pursuing clear, tangible goals to benefit the faculty and staff as well as students.
Our primary obligation of course is to our members, who get numerous traditional union benefits as well as perks. Local 965 will look in any substantial issue any UA employee brings to our attention or that we hear about.
Is it legal to join a union in Arkansas?
Yes. Amendment 34 to the Arkansas State Constitution guarantees the right of every citizen to join a union. In fact, it is illegal for an employer to fire a person because of membership in a union. The amendment is explicit: “No person shall be denied employment because of membership in or affiliation with or resignation from a labor union, or because of refusal to join or affiliate with a labor union.”
Arkansas is a so-called right-to-work state, which means that union membership is not required in a unionized workplace. Even if a worker does not join a union, he/she is entitled to the benefits secured by the union. Many union members believe so-called “right-to-work” laws are meant to cripple union bargaining power by encouraging workers not to join them, but the laws do not prohibit unions.
Furthermore, the University of Arkansas System allows union membership in Board of Trustees Policy 460.1 Employees Joining Labor Unions.
That said, any employee — from tenured prof to a classified part-time hourly — is subject to workplace discipline or a negative workplace environment, where at could be root one’s affiliation with some group including a union. To fight this or any discrimination, union membership has value there.
How long has Local 965 been around?
The Arkansas Public Employees Union (APEU) was founded in 1962, chartered in 1966 by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, to represent University of Arkansas employees and area municipal workers. AFSCME authorized Local 965 to represent government employees in nine counties through Northwest and North-Central Arkansas and later to also represent any U of A System employee.
Why did Local 965 reaffiliate?
In its five decades through 2019, APEU’s membership numbers fluctuated but diminished. Growth resumed in 2017 when some U of A faculty and staff looked for ways to oppose legislation allowing gun owners with enhanced concealed carry licenses to take firearms on campuses, which was passed as Act 562 of 2017. They joined Local 965. In 2018 AFSCME merged its Arkansas council into Louisiana’s. Local 965 officers found the enlarged council unresponsive and resumed informally calling themselves the APEU. A quorum of the APEU general membership voted in late 2019, after hearing pitches from several national unions, for affiliating with the Arkansas Education Association/National Education Association. The membership was impressed with AEA/NEA’s influence in the state capital and its leadership’s eagerness for higher education representation. In a state with no collective-bargaining rights for public-sector employees, our members decided the best way to pursue a pro-worker policy was to be represented by the most effective lobbyists for education employees in Arkansas, the AEA/NEA, which boasts over 12,000 members statewide.
What impact does the June 2018 Supreme Court ruling Janus v. AFSCME have here?
As Arkansas already is a right-to-work state, Janus will have little immediate impact. However, the ruling forces public employee unions to change how they operate nationwide, which will have an impact at the local level in policies, financing and influence.
The General Assembly’s ever-more-constrictive majority has most recently enacted Act 612 of 2021, prohibiting collective bargaining by public employees even though that activity already has been banned in Arkansas.
What voting precinct do I live in, and how can I find out who my state legislators are?
Type your name and birth date in Voter View to see if you’re already registered and in which precinct, districts etc. The state secretary of state’s office provides overall Voter Registration Information. Use the My Officials form, giving your home’s full street address where it indicates “Street” and the town in the City field.
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