Frequently Asked Questions

A union is an organization that serves as the exclusive bargaining representative of a defined group of employees for purposes of negotiating the terms and conditions of their employment, such as pay, benefits and working conditions. The negotiation process is known as “collective bargaining.” The “bargaining unit” is the group of employees that the union represents.  If a union is elected to be the exclusive bargaining representative for a bargaining unit, negotiations regarding terms and conditions of employment – for example as related to salary, time off, discipline, and more – must be solely between the employer and the union, not between the employer and individual employees.

Collective bargaining is the term used to describe the negotiation process between an employer and a union to reach an agreement on the bargaining unit’s terms and conditions of employment. Matters subject to collective bargaining include wages, hours, working conditions, procedures for dispute resolution, processes for in-unit promotions, along with other topics.

A collective bargaining agreement is a legally binding contract between an employer and a union that memorializes the terms and conditions of employment negotiated through collective bargaining.

The NLRA is the foundational federal labor law for private sector employees and employers that sets forth the rights of employees, unions and employers in, among other things, bargaining, representation elections and other protected concerted activity.

The NLRB is the federal agency responsible for enforcing the NLRA, including supervising representation elections and deciding issues concerning the interpretation of the NLRA. The NLRB is comprised of a five-member board and the NLRB’s investigations and litigations are overseen by a General Counsel, all of whom are appointed by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is a labor union representing almost 1.9 million workers in over 100 occupations in the United States and Canada. SEIU is focused on organizing workers in three sectors: healthcare, including hospital, home care and nursing home workers; public services; and property services.

At Syracuse, SEIU Local 200United currently represents unionized employees in the following departments: Food Services, Facilities Services, JMA Wireless Stadium, and Libraries.

The Syracuse Graduate Employees Union (“SGEU”) is a chapter of SEIU Local 200United that represents Graduate Assistant Employees at Syracuse University.

Unionization Process

An authorization card is a legally binding document that indicates the signer supports holding a union election and authorizes the union to be the card signer’s exclusive representative for the purposes of negotiating the terms and conditions of the signer’s employment.   However, it is important to remember that, even if someone signed an authorization card, each eligible voter is always free to vote however they want in the secret ballot election, regardless of whether a voter previously signed an authorization card.

There are several steps to forming a union. Typically, it begins with Union organizers seeking to collect authorization cards from potential bargaining unit members, i.e., the group of employees the union seeks to represent.  If the union organizers collect signed authorization cards from at least 30% of the potential bargaining unit members, they can file a petition with the NLRB to hold an election as to whether they should be the union representing the group of designated employees. The NLRB will then investigate and determine whether an election is warranted.  If the NLRB determines that there is an appropriate bargaining unit, the NLRB would oversee an election. There are other ways that elections are held even if a union does not file a petition. For example, an employer can also file a petition for an election, or the parties can enter into a “private election agreement” agreeing on another neutral third-party to oversee an election.

Regardless of how the parties reach an election, the outcome of an election would be determined by a simple majority of votes cast.  For example, if only 100 out of 500 eligible employees vote, 51 voters would determine the outcome for all 500 eligible employees in the bargaining unit, as well as future eligible employees.  This means it is very important for all eligible employees to participate in the election.

A union election is a secret-ballot election conducted and supervised by representatives of the NLRB, or an agreed-upon neutral third-party. Voting takes place in person or via a mail-in process. The parties may also agree to alternative election arrangements. Each eligible voter is free to vote however they want in the election, regardless of whether the voter has previously signed an authorization card.

A private election agreement is an agreement between the union and an employer to hold an election overseen by a neutral third-party, other than the NLRB, to determine whether eligible employees want to be represented by the union for purposes of collective bargaining over their terms and conditions of employment.  While the election is not run by the NLRB, the procedures look similar, though the agreement permits the parties to tailor the election to their particular needs separate from additional requirements imposed by the NLRB.

Private election agreements have been used successfully at a number of universities, including at Syracuse University, in the elections for graduate assistants and hourly student workers.

It is very important that every eligible employee vote.  The in-person election will be held on:

June 3, 2024
June 4, 2024

Shaffer Art Building,  Shemin Auditorium Room 101, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY 13210

June 3, 2024, 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
June 4, 2024, 7:30 a.m.- 5:30 p.m.

SEIU Local 200United is seeking to form a single bargaining unit comprising a wide range of job title and functions spanning many different disciplines. This includes positions from administrative assistant to marketing specialist across areas such as academic programming, accounting, executive support, housing, communications, facilities, information technology, the University art collection, and many others. This new unit would represent roughly 650  employees representing administrative professionals from diverse areas.

Only those employees who are members of the potential bargaining unit at the time of the election can vote.  The University and the Union agreed upon the makeup of the bargaining unit and the criteria for eligibility to vote.  While fairly long, in brief, the bargaining unit is made up of those non-supervisory, non-confidential staff members who work within the University’s Schools and Colleges and within two specific Academic Affairs Units – one reporting to the Associate Provost for Academic Programs and the other reporting to Associate Provost for Strategic Initiatives.  Excluded from the unit are employees who are Deans, Executive Directors, Senior Directors, Directors, Executive Assistants; employees employed in an Advancement position, the Office of Research (with the sole exception of the Sr Lab Animal Tech and Administrative Specialist I NS in the Office of Research Integrity and Protections), the Graduate School, the Office of Institutional Research or in Faculty Affairs; employees employed in a School’s central budget office, or are an Assistant Director, Associate Director, Analyst or Manager employed in any Budget and Planning position; are employed at Syracuse Stage, or; are a temporary employee.

Employees must be actively employed (including employees who did not work during that period because they were ill, on vacation, or temporarily laid off) during the payroll period ending May 15, 2024, to vote.  Employees who have quit or been discharged for cause this semester and who have not been reinstated prior to the date of this election are not eligible to vote.

The full unit description is included below:

Eligible to Vote: The following employees who are actively employed during the payroll period ending May 15, 2024, (including employees who did not work during that period because they were ill, on vacation, or temporarily laid off) and who work within the University’s Schools and Colleges and the following two Academic Affairs Units, one reporting to the Associate Provost for Academic Programs and the other reporting to Associate Provost for Strategic Initiatives, with the following job codes who do not have direct reports  and are not otherwise excluded from the unit:

Acad Program Manager I Other; Acad Program Manager I Other NE; Academic & Career Advisor; Academic Advisor; Academic Advisor N; Academic Coordinator I; Academic Coordinator I NS; Academic Prog Mgr Bus/Sci; Academic Program Manger Other; Accounting Assistant I; Accounting Assistant II; Admin Specialist II NS; Administrative Assistant I; Administrative Assistant II; Administrative Assistant II NS; Administrative Specialist I; Administrative Specialist I NS including in the Office of Research Integrity and Protections; Administrative Specialist II; Admissions Counselor I; Admissions Counselor II; Announcer; Assistant Director Housing; Assistant Studio Mgr; Assoc Dir Acad Prog Bus/Sci I; Assoc Dir Acad Prog Other I; Assoc Dir Digital/Social Media; Assoc Dir Univ Art Collection; Assoc Director Operations; Associate Dir Communications; Associate Dir Unit Admissions; Asst Dir Acad Prog Bus/Sci II; Asst Dir Acad Prog Other II; Asst Dir Academic Prog Other I; Asst Dir Community Engagement; Asst Dir Data Analytics; Asst Dir Digital/Soc Media I; Asst Dir Events I; Asst Dir Graduate Admissions; Asst Dir Health & Wellness; Asst Dir of Admissions II; Asst Dir Reg/Internat Prog I; Asst Dir Reg/Internat Prog II; Asst Director Communications; Asst Director Communications I; Asst Director Financial Aid I; Budget Support Associate outside of a School’s central budget office; Budget Support Associate NS outside of a School’s central budget office; Career Counselor; Communications Coordinator; Communications Mgr; Coord Accessibility & Accommod; Coord, Student Rghts&Respnsblts; Coord, Accessibility&Accommod NE; Coordinator II; Coordinator II NS; Culinary Specialist; Data Analyst I; Data Analyst II N; Data Analyst Instit Res I NS; Data Specialist II; Digital/Social Media Spec; Document Manager; Enrollment Coord; Enrollment Coordinator NS; Event Coordinator III; Events Coordinator I; Events Coordinator II; Events Manager I; Events Manager I – NE; Experimental Machinist; Facilities Coordinator; Facilities Coordinator NS; Facilities Manager I; Functional Business Analyst I in Academic Affairs’ Registrar’s Office; Functional System Specialist in the College of Professional Studies – Online Program; Graphic Artist; International Student Advisor; Internship Coordinator; Kitchen Technician; Lab Assistant Science III; Lab Asst Engineering III; Lab Manager Media Production II; Lab Manager Science I NS; Lab Specialist; Lab Supervisor Science; Laboratory Manager – Science II; Laboratory Technician- Arts; Language Coordinator; Lead Acad&Professional Advisor; Learning Specialist I; Learning Specialist II; Library Curator; Manager Grant Proposals; Manager Radio / TV Services; Marketing Manager; Marketing Web Specialist I; Mgr Of Student Records; Multimedia Specialist; Museum Specialist; Office Coordinator III; Office Coordinator IV; Office Supervisor II NS; Online Technology Designer in the College of Professional Studies – Online Program; Operations Specialist; Piano Technician; Producer Waer; Prog Coord Business/Science; Program Administrator; Program Coordinator – Other; Program Coordinator – Other NS; Project Manager II; Purchasing Coordinator; Recruiting Assistant; Registrar Art Collection; Research Analyst – SocialSci; Research Analyst -Nat/Phy Sci; Research Assistant I; Research Assistant II; Research Assoc – Data; Research Associate S/BScience; Senior Engineer; Senior Research Associate; Shop Technician; Sound Designer/Engineer; Sr Lab Animal Tech in the Office of Research Integrity and Protections; Sr Marketing Web Specialist; Sr Student Records Coordinator; Sr Writer/Content Specialist; Training Consultant; Videographer Associate; Web Content Manager; Writer/Content Specialist.

Not Eligible to Vote: Individuals not eligible to vote in this election are all other employees holding job titles not explicitly identified above, including without limitation all Deans; Executive Directors; Senior Directors; Directors; Executive Assistants; Practitioners in Residence; Speech Pathologists; the Assistant Director of Business Operations; Asst Dir Grants & Contracts I; Operations Manager for Tepper in NYC; Asst Dir Acad Prog Bus/Sc II N; General Manager, OrangeTV Ntwrk; Assoc Dir Educational Dev; Associate Dir Proj Mgt II; employees employed in a Systems and Networks position (Information Technology); employees employed in an Advancement position; employees employed in the Office of Research (with the sole exception of the Sr Lab Animal Tech and Administrative Specialist I NS in the Office of Research Integrity and Protections); employees employed in the Graduate School, the Office of Institutional Research or in Faculty Affairs; Assistant Directors and Associate Directors in Academic Advising or Career Services; employees employed in a School’s central budget office and all Assistant Directors, Associate Directors, Analysts and Managers employed in any Budget and Planning position; employees of Syracuse Stage; temporary employees; all students; all faculty; employees covered by any other bargaining unit at Syracuse University; supervisors and managerial employees; confidential employees; guards; and, all other employees.

Employees who have quit or been discharged for cause this semester who have not been reinstated prior to the date of this election are not eligible to vote.

The parties agreed that the election will be conducted in part online.  Voters unable to vote in person because they perform in-unit services outside of the Syracuse Metropolitan area or who have a verified, pre-approved vacation are permitted to request to cast their vote online. Online ballots will be sent to eligible voters identified and agreed to by SEIU- Service Employees International Union Local 200United and the University. AAA will send online ballots to the eligible voters on the first day of the in-person election.



Although eligible employees cannot be forced to join a union (more on that below), any who fall within the description of the bargaining unit as a member of the proposed bargaining unit would be bound by the results of an election and subject to the terms of the collective bargaining agreement negotiated by a union. This is true even if employees abstain from voting in an election or choose not to join the union after the union wins the election. This also applies to future eligible employees who will not have a chance to vote.  Therefore, it is very important that every eligible employee vote since you will be bound by the results whether or not you wish to be represented by a union.

Any employee who is eligible to vote in the union election should have received an email notification directly from the American Arbitration Association (AAA). Although the University has taken measures to prevent AAA emails from being identified as spam, it is still possible that this notification will end up in spam folders. We urge employees to check their spam folders for good measure. If you believe you are eligible but did not receive this notification, contact Sacha Ulerio at

Costs and Fees

A union’s primary source of revenues is collecting dues from members.  Unions charge dues to their members to fund the operations of the union. Dues can range in amount. Each union establishes its own dues formula, but dues are typically up to 2% percent of an employee’s compensation. Unions may also charge an initiation fee to join.

Eligible employees who choose not to join the union would not have to pay dues, but they may have to pay agency fees. Under federal law, if provided for in a collective bargaining agreement, a union can compel members of a bargaining unit either to become dues-paying union members or to pay the union an agency or representation fee. Agency fees are used to pay for the costs associated with union operations such as collective bargaining and contract administration. Agency fee amounts are set by the union but are typically roughly equivalent to the amount of union dues.

Unions at Syracuse University

Yes. The University has a collaborative relationship with the five unions that represent approximately 2,700 University employees and graduate assistants. For more information on the unions at the University, visit the Human Resources labor relations website.

The University respects the important role of labor unions in the workplace. Syracuse University does not have a formal position at this time but supports eligible employees in their exploration of the issues involved. The University strongly urges all employees to educate themselves about what it means to join a union before voting for representation by a union.

No proposed provisions of a collective bargaining agreement will be developed unless or until eligible employees vote on whether they want to be represented by a union. If the potential bargaining unit members vote in favor of a union—by a majority of those who show up to cast votes— and the union is certified, the union and the University would then begin negotiating the terms of a collective bargaining agreement. All employees classified as members of the bargaining unit, whether or not they voted in favor of the union, would be subject to and bound by the terms of the finalized collective bargaining agreement.

It is not possible to predict how collective bargaining would impact the quantity or quality of wages or other benefits. Under federal labor law, parties are not required to reach an agreement or agree to any specific contract proposal—the NLRA just requires the parties to collectively bargain in good faith.  Specifically, Syracuse University would have no obligation to agree to anything SEIU proposes in bargaining if that proposal is not acceptable to the University. SEIU also cannot guarantee that they can deliver on any promise for improvement made by the union during the campaign. As a result, employees could receive terms and conditions that are better than, the same or worse than what they currently have. The University will negotiate in good faith if a union is elected as the exclusive bargaining representative for any group of employees.

If eligible employees elect to be represented by a union, the union would become the exclusive voice for the employees in the bargaining unit on all issues related to the terms and conditions of their employment. A collective bargaining agreement would set the terms and conditions for all members of the bargaining unit.  Individual employees would be prevented from negotiating unique and specific arrangements, such as regarding flexible work schedules or remote work, related to their terms or conditions of employment directly with their respective supervisors unless otherwise permitted in the collective bargaining agreement or agreed to by the union.