FAQ (updated Fall 2022)

What is the recertification election?

Recertification is a new election process where all employees that are part of a bargaining unit (whether members of the union or not) must actually vote to retain the union as the certified bargaining representative for purposes of negotiating a legally binding union contract.

Why does our union need to hold a recertification election?

The Iowa State legislature passed legislation in the Spring of 2017 which included a provision that requires public sector unions to face a recertification election prior to negotiating every new contract.

When will the recertification election take place?

The recertification election will take place Tuesday October 11 through Tuesday October 25 (polls close at 9am on this day). During that time the polls will be open online and/or by telephone.

How do I vote?

  1. Go to cogs.org/vote which redirects to https://vote.yeselections.com/iaperb/ or call toll free at (877) 639-7161.
  2. Enter your birth date and the last four digits of your Social Security number. For international students who do not yet have a Social Security number, enter the last four digits of your University ID.
  3. VOTE YES to re-certify UE Local 896 COGS!
  4. You MUST CONFIRM your choice in order for your vote to be counted.

Who is eligible to vote?

All teaching and research assistants at the University of Iowa who have a 25% or greater appointment in the Fall of 2022 and are covered by the COGS contract are eligible to vote. Graduate students who are on Fellowship during the Fall will not be eligible to vote.

How many votes do we need to win?

An absolute majority of the bargaining unit of approximately 2000 graduate teaching and research assistants must vote YES for UE Local 896 COGS to remain the legally certified bargaining representative. Failure to vote in the election will count as a NO vote.

What does it mean to vote YES?

Voting YES to re-certify means the employee (you) wishes to maintain the current bargaining agent (COGS) as the legally recognized representative for a new union contract. If we win, UE Local 896 COGS will negotiate a union contract for the next two years. If we lose, our union contract will immediately be null and void.

This vote has nothing to do with joining the union. All members of the bargaining unit must vote – union members and potential members.

Collective Bargaining FAQ

What can we bargain in our union contract under the new law?

We can bargain a contract that contains both “mandatory” and “permissive” topics. Wages are the only mandatory topic of bargaining, which means that we can take wages to arbitration if we do not reach an agreement with the Board of Regents.

We can negotiate permissive topics if both sides agree to bargain over the issues.

Supplemental pay, health insurance, and union dues deduction are now illegal topics of bargaining, which means they cannot be included in the COGS contract until public employee collective bargaining rights are restored by law.

What are permissive topics of bargaining?

Sick leave, paid leave, holidays, hours of work, appointment letters, safety, training, human rights, travel, office equipment, union rights, and a binding grievance procedure.   Most of the old COGS contract can still be included in a legally binding collective bargaining agreement that graduate employees negotiate and vote on.

How do we get the Board of Regents to agree?

None of the gains COGS made in 20 years of collective bargaining were won in arbitration. They were won by voluntary mutual agreement. Graduate employees organized to persuade the University administration and the Board of Regents that tuition scholarships, health insurance, higher salaries, and decent working conditions would have a positive impact on graduate education by attracting the best students and reducing time to degree.

Graduate employees earned respect by uniting to advocate for the importance of our work. We signed petitions, rallied, marched, wrote letters, wore buttons, sat in, and spoke out. We made our voices heard.

What can we do about topics that are now illegal?

Supplemental pay and health insurance are two of the most important benefits for graduate employees. While we can no longer formally negotiate with the Board of Regents, COGS can still advocate for graduate employees by publicly holding the University accountable for any cuts to our benefits and demanding improvements such as a 100% fees scholarship.

When do negotiations begin?

If we win the COGS recertification election in October, Negotiations will begin in November 2022 for the 2023-2025 COGS contract.