After nearly two years without union representation, the University Support Personnel System employees voted for a staff-based union in an election that was held Sept. 15.
Out of 1,625 eligible employees, only 816 voted in the election. With 85 percent of the votes, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees became the representing union of USPS employees, as certified by the Public Employee Relations Commission (PERC) on Sept. 15.
AFSCME was the representing union two years ago — before USF received governing power over the USPS employees from the State University System.
The union’s main purpose is to facilitate and lead collective bargaining between the university and its employees.
Eugene Hebert, a Bull Runner driver, said he is a supporter of the union.
“People want to be recognized and appreciated,” he said. “We’d like our rights and protection; this is the only way we feel as though at this point we are going to get this, is by unionizing.”
Before the election, Hebert tried to explain to his coworkers the advantages of having a union. Now that the election is over, the result is to his liking.
“I’m elated about (the results), especially the wide margin that (the union) won by,” he said.
Hebert said he wants as many people as possible to join the union and that he will take an active part in the union process.
“I’ve been speaking with the current president and the local organizer and I’ve decided to try to help out the president as much as I can in any capacity,” he said. “I’m sure that each department would like to have a representative; I offered to be a representative for the Parking and Transportation, which would encompass a large number of people.”
The collective bargaining will begin as soon as PERC certifies the union and the AFSCME is ready for the process. PERC represents and oversees the collective bargaining for approximately 400,000 public employees of the state of Florida.
Although Hebert does not have an exact date, he says that bargaining will begin “as soon as feasibly possible, but legal things need to be done before the process can start.”
Hebert said he has high hopes for what the union can achieve.
“Hopefully we can get everyone on board and show the administration that people are serious and they mean business,” Hebert said. “This is not the weak union that it was two years ago.”
AFSCME president Bill McClelland did not return phone calls Sunday night.