Highlights

CASE STATUS SUMMARIES OVERVIEW CHARTS
REPRESENTATION PETITIONS STRIKE & STRIKE CLASS PETITIONS UNIT CLARIFICATION PETITIONS
UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICES CLAIMS FOR RELIGIOUS EXEMPTION PETITIONS TO ENFORCE THE C.B.A.

For the first time in several years, the Agency did not experience turnover in any of its four staff positions. This stabilizing of personnel, along with streamlined procedures, enabled the Agency to put a significant dent in a caseload backlog that had developed in the mid-1990’s. Although a backlog still exists, total pending cases have decreased in each of the past two years due to efficiencies of operations.

Cases filed in 1999 totaled 68, a reduction from 106 in 1998 and 156 in 1997. This 36 percent decrease, coupled with an increase in dispositions of previously pending cases, reduced the agency’s total caseload significantly. The total 1999 filings are more comparable to the average number of filings (84) during the 1991 to 1994 period. The Agency’s backlog developed in primary part due to the large number of cases filed in the 1995-to-1998 period, an average of 149 per year. Due to a lean budget, the agency continued to work this large caseload increase with the same number of staff.

Unit clarification (UC) petitions totaled 31 in 1999, the largest category of cases filed. This compares to 66 filings in 1998. These petitions usually concern the supervisory status of various State employees. The supervisory status of an employee determines the employee’s bargaining unit placement. While the question of who is a supervisor affects all State employee bargaining units, UC disputes before the Agency primarily involve the State, the Alaska State Employees Association (ASEA), (which represents the general government unit,) and the Alaska Public Employees Association (APEA), which represents the supervisors’ unit. A significant increase in the number of petitions began in 1995, due in part to a 1995 amendment to a regulation defining "supervisory employee." The validity of this amendment was eventually challenged in the courts. On October 15, 1999, the Alaska Supreme Court affirmed the regulation’s validity.

The UC caseload had increased to 207 by November 1, 1997. The procedure at that time, holding a hearing in each case, became essentially impossible. To reduce the UC caseload backlog and improve production, the agency implemented streamlining procedures, which have succeeded so far. In 1999, the agency completed 93 UC investigations. Coupled with the 31 cases filed during the year, the UC caseload was reduced significantly in 1999. (See "Final Disposition" data in chart at page 8, and discussion at page 14).

Filings in unfair labor practice (ULP) charges experienced a slight decrease from 22 in 1998 to 20 in 1999. The issue in 45 percent of the charges was bad faith bargaining. These charges often arise in the context of collective bargaining; one party believes the other party is not bargaining in good faith. The issue in 30 percent of the charges was interference with protected rights such as organizing and collective bargaining. The remaining 25 percent of charges related to the duty of fair representation.

The Agency’s efforts to deal with the increasing unit clarification caseload delayed completion of unfair labor practice investigations. Effective January 1, 1999, the Agency implemented new investigative procedures designed to reduce the time needed to complete investigations. Because this procedure affects only newly filed cases, and not charges filed in prior years, the number of days to conclude all investigations (see chart at page 18) may continue to rise until pre-1999 cases are completed. Applying old procedures, the Agency completed 19 ULP investigations in an average of 424 days. This compares to 12 ULP cases completed under the new, more efficient procedure in an average of 90 days. (See chart at page 18).

The Agency received four election petitions in 1999. One petition requested certification of a bargaining representative, another requested decertification, and two others sought decertification of the current representative and certification of a new bargaining representative.

The Agency also conducted three elections. Two of the elections certified new bargaining units, and one election decertified the bargaining representative. The outcome of the election activity in 1999 was a net decrease in the number of public employees covered by collective bargaining.

The number of strike petitions increased for the third year in a row. Total 1999 strike petitions were 6, compared to 4 in 1998 and 2 in 1997. This increase is generally attributable to expiration of multi-year contracts between employers and labor organizations.

The Agency continues to encourage informal resolution of disputes. As a result, 18 unfair labor practice charges were resolved informally in 1999. This compares to 15 such resolutions in 1998, 20 in 1997, and 14 in 1996. In addition, the Agency’s hearing officer/investigator has worked with parties in structured mediation sessions to settle several unfair labor practice charges. This success in mediation saved the parties, the Board, and the Agency the cost and time that would have been required for litigation of the disputes. The Agency hopes to train other staff to assist in mediation efforts.

During 1999, the Agency helped to revitalize the Alaska chapter of the Industrial Relations Research Association (IRRA). IRRA is the one organization in the country in which professionals from all aspects of industrial relations and human resources can share ideas and learn about new developments and practices in the field. IRRA sponsors and publishes research. It promotes education and provides a forum for the exchange of ideas on employment issues. IRRA does not take partisan positions on policy issues; rather, it serves as a resource to labor and management professionals, including advocates and neutrals, government, and the academic community. An active Alaska chapter provides Alaska employment professionals with opportunities for networking and training, and it serves as a resource within the state.

The Alaska chapter started meeting on a monthly basis in September, 1999. Meetings are highlighted by speaker presentations. In recent months, speakers have addressed issues such as arbitration, equal employment opportunity, and workplace violence and safety.

Agency information is available on its internet web site, accessible through the State of Alaska’s home page (http://www.state.ak.us) or directly at http://www.labor.state.ak.us/laborr/laborr.htm. The site contains a link to contact the administrator by email, and information about agency programs and resources. The Agency continues to add new materials. For example, during 1999, digests of Agency decision and orders, along with a link to the full decision, were added for the years 1997-99. The Agency set a goal of having digests and decisions from 1991 (the agency’s inception) to the present available on the web site by June 30, 2000.

CASE STATUS SUMMARIES   back to top

Case Load Comparison by Year

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OVERVIEW   back to top

Cases filed

1999

1998

1997

1996

1995

Amended Certification (AC)

1

1

1

1

1

Representation (RC)

1

6

6

5

7

Decertification (RD)

1

1

1

2

2

Decert. to certify a new rep. (RC/RD)

2

0

1

2

4

Strike notice or strike class petition (SP)

6

4

2

10

4

Unit Clarification (UC)

31

66

94

148

52

Unfair Labor Practice Charge (ULP)

20

22

40

31

54

Religious Exemption Claims (RE)

1

2

1

0

0

Contract Enforcement (CBA)

5

4

10

6

3

Other (OTH)

0

0

0

1

1

Total

68

106

156

206

129

Agency activity

1999

1998

1997

1996

1995

Unfair Labor Practice Investigations

31

24

26

20

46

Unit Clarification Investigations

93

NC

NC

NC

NC

Decisions and Orders Issued

6

9

25

12

15

Other Board Orders Issued

16

NC

NC

NC

NC

Hearing Officer Orders Issued

3

NC

NC

NC

NC

Elections

3

6

7

6

11

Total

152

39

58

38

72

Final disposition

1999

1998

1997

1996

1995

Notices of dismissal issued

89

67

27

15

19

Cases settled or withdrawn

45

87

69

25

37

Cases that went to hearing

7

3

10

29

28

Impasse matters settled or withdrawn

5

2

0

1

2

Cases deferred to arbitration

1

1

0

1

0

Total

147

160

106

71

86

Agency activity

1998

1997

1996

1995

1994

Total 39 58 38 72 63
Unfair Labor Practice Investigations

24

26

20

46

43

Decisions and Orders Issued

9

25

12

15

14

Elections

7

6

11

6

4

*NC = not counted

CHARTS   back to top

Program Comparison by Year

RC Representation petitions / SP Strike notices and petitions / UC Unit clarification petitions
ULP Unfair labor practice charge / RE Religious exemption claim / CBA Contract Enforcement

Employer Comparison by Year

REPRESENTATION PETITIONS (AS 23.40.100; AS 42.40.750) back to top

Representation petitions are filed by labor organizations, employers, or employees to initiate a secret ballot election for certification or decertification of an employee representative for collective bargaining. Less frequently a petition is filed to advise the agency that the employer consents to the labor organization’s representation of a particular unit of employees. Notification of consent to recognition does not require any action by the Agency. Most petitioners seek an election. Before an election can be conducted, any objections to the election or the composition of the bargaining unit must be resolved. Often a hearing before the Agency is needed. Petitions for representation of a municipal bargaining unit frequently require examination of the validity of a municipality's rejection of PERA under the opt out clause in the legislation adopting PERA, section 4, ch. 113, SLA 1972. Employer objections to the unit that the labor organization seeks to represent also are common. The Agency conducts the election, rules on objections or challenges to the conduct of the election, and certifies the results. If the petitioner seeks to sever a group from an existing unit, the petitioner must demonstrate that the existing unit was not fairly representing the interests of the smaller group, and that the smaller group is an appropriate unit, among other factors.

The Agency conducted three elections in 1999. One election resulted in certification of the Laborers International Union of North America, Local 341/AFL-CIO, and International Union of Operating Engineers Local 302/AFL-CIO, as joint petitioners to represent public works/sewer and water department employees of the City of Whittier. In another representation election, the Agency certified the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 302/AFL-CIO as the representative of a unit of City of Unalaska. The third election was a decertification petition by Alaska State Court System employees represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 1547, AFL-CIO. This election resulted in certification of no bargaining representative. In addition to these elections, the agency received one petition to amend an election certificate. It showed a bargaining unit name change from Alaska Housing Finance Corporation Employees Association to Alaska Housing Maintenance and Custodians, Local 6082/Alaska Public Employees Association/AFT, AFL-CIO.

The Agency also received a representation petition from a new employee association called the City of Fairbanks, General Government Employees Association. This petition seeks decertification of the current bargaining representative, Alaska Public Employees Association/AFT, AFL-CIO, and certification of the new employee association as the exclusive bargaining representative. A blocking charge (unfair labor practice) must first be resolved before this election can proceed.

Representation Petitions Filed

5
Employer
  State 3
  Municipalities 2
  Public Schools 0
Type
  To certify a new unit 1
  To decertify the unit 1
  To change representatives 2
  To amend certificate 1
Hearings conducted 0
Petitions that proceeded to election 2

Representation Petition Flow Chart

STRIKE & STRIKE CLASS PETITIONS (AS 23.40.200; 8 AAC 97.300; AS 42.40.850) back to top

Public employees under PERA are divided into three classes, depending on their right to strike. Under PERA the agency hears disputes about strike classifications and impasse. It receives notices of strike vote election and monitors the election, which the labor organizations conduct themselves. The Agency rules on any objections to the conduct of elections. In the case of school district bargaining representatives, submission to advisory arbitration is required before a strike vote election. 8 AAC 97.300.

The number of strike petitions filed has tripled in the past three years, from two in 1997 to six in 1999. This is primarily attributable to expiration of multi-year collective bargaining agreements. In one case, employees of the Anchorage School District filed a strike vote petition that involved disputes between the Anchorage School District and support personnel represented by TOTEM Association of Educational Support Personnel, Inc. The Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District and the Lower Kuskokwim School District were also involved in strike vote petitions involving their teachers. The Ketchikan teachers resolved their contract dispute after a brief strike. Unions representing State of Alaska employees also filed three strike petitions, but they have not gone out on strike.

Strike Petitions Filed

6
Employer
  State 3
  Municipalities 0
  Public Schools 3
  Railroad 0
Hearings conducted 0

UNIT CLARIFICATION PETITIONS (8 AAC 97.050) back to top

Unit clarification petitions and petitions to amend a bargaining unit can be filed to resolve disputes over unit composition. An employer's reorganization of its staff, or adding or eliminating positions can raise a question of the appropriate unit. Representation may not be an issue in a unit clarification petition, and unit issues that come up in the process of handling a representation petition are not counted here.

Most of these disputes arise as objections to State transfers between bargaining units. For example, the State may change a position's job duties, which may affect the position's unit placement. Transfers between the general government unit (GGU) and the supervisory (SU) or confidential (CEA) units comprise most of the disputes. If investigation shows there is reasonable cause to believe that a question of unit clarification exists, the cases require a hearing with the State and both interested labor organizations as parties.

Although the number of unit case filings in 1999 (31) decreased from 1998 (66), the average number of petitions filed annually in the 4-year period 1996-99 (85 per year) continues to challenge the Agency’s resources. (By comparison, the number of unit petitions filed during the 1992-95 period averaged 22 per year.) Of the 31 unit clarification petitions filed in 1999, 30 were State-related petitions. Most result from the State's shift of employees to the supervisory unit from the general government unit following the Agency’s 1995 amendment to the definition of "supervisory employee." The amendment, intended to simplify determining who is a supervisor, has been controversial. However, on October 15, 1999, the Alaska Supreme Court upheld the validity of the regulation defining "supervisory employee." (See "supervisory status" case under "Appeals" at page 21).

To address the significant rise in unit clarification cases, the agency implemented streamlining procedures in 1998. Caseloads were adjusted, and as a result, the personnel specialist I, rather than the hearing officer, now handles initial investigations. Moreover, the Agency now utilizes a comprehensive questionnaire to gather needed investigatory information, rather than rely on and wait for the parties to provide it, or proceed to hearing, as was done under prior procedures (For example, 28 UC disputes went to hearing in 1996). As a result of these new procedures, a total of 93 unit clarification investigations were concluded in 1999. At this time, 72 unit clarifications remain open. The Agency’s hearing officer, who previously conducted these investigations, is only required to review and act on the personnel specialist’s recommendations. This enables the hearing officer to focus more time on unfair labor practice investigations, mediation, and other duties.

Unit Clarification Petitions Filed

31
Employer
  State 30
  Municipalities 1
  Public Schools 0
  Railroad 0
Hearings conducted 0

UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICE CHARGES (AS 23.40.110; AS 42.40.760) back to top

Employers, employee representatives, and individual employees may file unfair labor practice charges. Charges against employers can include retaliation for union membership or exercise of employee rights, coercion, domination or interference with an organization, and bad faith bargaining. Charges against unions include coercion, bad faith bargaining, dues disputes, and interference with the employer's selection of its collective bargaining representative.

Unfair labor practice charge filings totaled 20 in 1999, compared to 22 in 1998 and 40 in 1997. The dispute in nine charges concerned bad faith bargaining. Six charges alleged interference with protected rights, and five concerned the duty of fair representation.

The Agency concluded 31 investigations in 1999, compared to 24 in 1998 and 26 in 1997. As noted (see "Highlights"), staff vacancies and the dramatic increase in the unit clarification caseload had impacted investigation, resolution and conclusion of unfair labor practice cases. The Agency had prioritized unit clarifications in order to gain an element of control over that caseload. Consequently, the time to conclude unfair labor practice investigations and issue decisions increased significantly in 1998. (See timeliness charts, page 18). As expected, this pattern continued into 1999 as the agency worked through the older pending cases. However, the Agency implemented a streamlined, more efficient unfair labor practice procedure effective January 1, 1999. This procedure has reduced the time needed to conclude investigations (See chart at page 18). Further (see page 12), unit clarifications have been reassigned to the personnel specialist I so the hearing officer has more time to devote to unfair labor practice charges.

Unfair Labor Practice Charges Filed

20
Employer
  State 10
  Municipalities 5
  Public Schools 5
  Railroad 0
Type
  Arbitration related 0
  Bad faith bargaining 9
  Retaliation 0
  Interference with protected rights 6
  Union duty of fair representation 5
  Employer action without bargaining 0
  Information request 0
  Scope of bargaining 0
  Weingarten 0
  Discrimination 0
  Impasse 0
  Other 0
Investigations 31
Hearings conducted 3
Other resolution
  Dismissals (no probable cause) 8
  Deferrals to arbitration 0
  Settled or withdrawn 18
  Dismissed, inaction 5
  Dismissed, final order 1
  Dismissed, Insufficient 1
  Remand 0
  Other 1

Comparison by ULP Complainant

Complainant

1999

1998

1997

1996

1995

Total

Alaska Public Employees Ass’n.

1

4

1

1

1

10

Alaska State Employees Ass’n.

6

1

12

9

8

50

I.B.U.P.

1

0

0

0

2

6

I.B.E.W.

3

0

6

7

5

21

UA Classified Employees Ass’n.

0

0

1

0

0

2

ACCFT

0

5

1

0

6

13

Other Unions

0

1

8

3

4

23

School Unions

0

6

3

2

3

19

Individuals

7

3

3

6

23

55

Employers

2

2

5

3

2

16

Total ULPs filed

20

22

40

31

54

215

Unfair Labor Practice Charge Flow Chart

CLAIMS FOR RELIGIOUS EXEMPTION (AS 23.40.225; AS 42.40.880) back to top

AS 23.40.225 and AS 42.40.880 allow a public employee to seek an exemption from union membership or agency fee payment on the basis of religious convictions.

Claims filed

1
Employer
  State 0
  Municipalities 0
  Public Schools 1
  Railroad 0
Hearings conducted 0

PETITIONS TO ENFORCE THE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT (AS 23.40.210; AS 42.40.860(b); 8 AAC 97.510) back to top

AS 23.40.210 and AS 42.40.860(b) authorize the agency to enforce the terms of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Because all agreements under AS 23.40.210 must contain an arbitration clause to handle disputes under the agreement, 8 AAC 97.510 requires that parties first exhaust the arbitration clause or show that it does not apply before filing a petition with the agency to enforce the agreement.

Five such petitions were filed in 1999, one more than 1998’s total, but equal to the average number of CBA petitions filed yearly in the 1993 – 1996 period. The 1997 period contained the highest number of CBA petitions filed (10).

CBA petitions filed

5
Employer
  State 4
  Municipalities 1
  Public Schools 0
  Railroad 0
Hearings conducted 0

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