I want out of the union; how do I do that?
Initially, an employee in this situation needs to understand the concepts of the “bargaining unit” and how an employee organization becomes “certified” as the bargaining unit’s exclusive representative for purposes of collective bargaining with the public employer, discussed in the answer to the previous question.
If an employee is in a PERB-determined bargaining unit which is represented by a certified employee organization, the employee should be aware that under Iowa law they are not required to join, participate in or support the employee organization in any way, financially or otherwise. Represented employees who are members of the employee organization are entitled to drop their membership, and cease the payment of any dues or fees whatsoever, if they choose to do so. However, employees should also realize that if they are employed in a position which is included within a bargaining unit which has a certified representative, they will be represented for purposes of collective bargaining by the certified representative and subject to the terms and conditions of the contract negotiated between that representative and the employer, regardless of whether they are dues-paying members of the organization.
If employees in a unit that has a certified representative no longer want that representative, the employees may petition PERB, if supported by at least 30 percent of the employees in the represented bargaining unit, to hold a “representative decertification” election to determine whether the unit’s existing representative will be “decertified,” meaning the organization would no longer represent the unit. Iowa Code section 20.15(3) and PERB rule 621—5.7(5) place limits on when representative decertification petitions may be filed with PERB, which employees should review if considering an effort to decertify their existing representative. In a PERB decertification election, all of the employees in the bargaining unit who were employed on established eligibility dates will be able to vote by secret ballot. If a majority of those eligible to vote are in favor of decertifying the current representative, the certified employee organization will be decertified and will no longer be the bargaining unit’s representative.
When an employee organization is decertified as a bargaining unit’s representative, its existing collective bargaining agreement with the employer is no longer binding or enforceable, and the public employer no longer has a duty to negotiate with that organization. If an employee organization is decertified due to the results of an election, the same employee organization or any other employee organization must wait two years from the date of the election to petition to become the bargaining unit’s new representative.
A certified employee organization may also lose its status as a certified representative of a unit due to its failure to comply with Iowa Code chapter 20 or as a result of a retention and recertification election in which the certified representative fails to receive a majority of eligible voters to vote in favor of retaining and recertifying the employee organization as the unit’s representative.