2011 Wisconsin Act 10 established an annual recertification requirement for unions representing general employee bargaining units in the municipal and state sectors to continue as the exclusive collective bargaining representative. General employee units include all employee groups except public safety and transit. To meet the annual recertification requirement, continuation of the union’s status as the exclusive representative must be favored in a secret ballot election conducted by the Commission by at least fifty-one percent (51%) of the employees in the bargaining unit who are eligible to vote.
The Commission conducts two sets of simultaneous secret ballot annual elections each year: one for non-school district and non-state employees no later than May 1 (typically in April) and another for school district and State of Wisconsin employees no later than December 1 (typically in November). Employees vote by telephone or online.
How to File for an Annual Recertification Election
The Commission’s administrative rules require that a general employee union seeking to continue as representative must provide the applicable annual election filing fee to the Commission’s Madison office no later than 4:30 p.m. on September 15 for state and school district general employee bargaining units and no later than 4:30 p.m. on January 30 for non-school and non-state general employee bargaining units. When the union submits a completed annual election request form with the applicable filing fee to the Commission, it should also submit a copy to the employer. The employer then has ten (10) business days to provide the Commission with a list of employees it believes are eligible to vote, including the employees’ home addresses and the last four digits of their Social Security numbers. At the same time, the employer should send the union a name only version of the voter eligibility list. This information is used to ensure voters are participating in the correct election. For a detailed description of how to produce the eligibility list, please see the Eligibility List Guidelines. If parties disagree over the eligibility list, the party disputing the list will promptly send a list of names of the challenged voters to the Commission and the other party. Employees whose eligibility is disputed by one of the parties are permitted to vote by challenged ballot. Challenged ballots are not counted in the initial tally reported by the Commission.
How Annual Recertification Elections are Conducted
The Commission sends the union and employer a Direction of Election and Notice of Election. The cover letter accompanying these documents directs the employer to distribute/post the Notice of Election so that employees are aware of how/when they may vote. The cover letter also reminds the employer to submit the voter eligibility list to the Commission and Union if it has not already done so.
During a twenty (20) calendar day voting period, voters cast their ballots either online or by telephone. A help desk is available to assist voters. At the conclusion of the voting period, the Commission posts a summary of the ballots cast for and against the union in each of the elections on their website. Shortly thereafter, the Commission also sends the union and employer a tally of votes cast in each election. The union and employer have a period of eight (8) calendar days after receipt of the tally to file any objections concerning the conduct of the election with the Commission. Where objections and/or voter challenges that could affect the election outcome are timely filed, the Commission gathers pertinent information from the union and employer either informally or through a formal hearing, and then resolves the objections/challenges before certifying the election result.
If there are no objections after the eight days have passed, the Commission issues a Certification of Results of Election. If the union prevails in the election, it becomes recertified on the date the Certification of Results of Election is issued. If the union does not prevail, it becomes decertified on the date the Certification of Results of Election is issued or when their current collective bargaining agreement expires (whichever is later).
Additional information can be found in the Commission’s administrative rules at ERC 70 (school district elections), ERC 71 (elections involving public sector employees who are not employed by a school district or the state of Wisconsin) and ERC 80 (state of Wisconsin employee elections).