Dixie State University Challenges Employee's Right to Unionize!

We received a transcript of a meeting at Dixie State University. (Transcript PDF) In this meeting, Doajo Hicks, General Counsel & Chief Diversity Officer of the university, stated, "So, what you have to understand is that tenure gives you, otherwise in the State of Utah, everyone knows this, in the State of Utah every employee is at will. You cannot unionize, because it's against the law."
Obviously, Mr. Hicks doesn't know or understand national labor law or employee rights in Utah. (Which is surprising considering he is the General Counsel for DSU)
1) It is not illegal to unionize in Utah or in the United States. Every employee has the right to organize a union.
2) Not every employee in the "State of Utah" is at will. There are several thousand public employees across Utah that have contracts and unions negotiate on their behalf.
It has long been recognized that Utah Board of Regent's policy prohibits collective bargaining rights in public higher education institutions. That does not prohibit higher education faculty and staff from joining and forming unions.
Such bullying and intimidation, such as this example, unfortunately has become common in the workplace. This is why employees have formed unions and organized. We are seeing employees get fed up with such treatment as is the case in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Colorado, and now Arizona. Thousands of employees in public education organizing, protesting, and fighting back! The greatest defense we have against unfair labor practices, intimidation at the workplace, and attacks against working families is to organize! Together in solidarity, we collectively have a voice. It's time for higher education faculty and staff to organize and come together. AFT Utah stands ready. Join the cause... join the union. #AFTEmpoweringU


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Unions Begin With YOU!

While on union business in Carbon County, I spent some time with a volunteer at the Mining Museum in Helper, Utah. This gentleman, as a young man, personally knew my great-grandfather and other members of my family that lived and worked in the coal mine located in Kenilworth. As he gave me a grand tour of this fantastic and historical museum, I caught my breath as I entered a room dedicated to unions and those leaders that protected the rights of these hard working men and women of Carbon County.

I was drawn to a photograph of miners that had just come out of the darkness after their shift into the sunlight. I recollect my grandfather telling me how he used to walk to the mine entrance by the light of his carbide headlamp before dawn only to emerge hours later to the brilliant sunlight of the afternoon. My guide shared with me the stories of my great-grandfather, a Swedish immigrant, and how kind he was to everyone in the community. How hard he worked and as a timber boss how important his job was to ensure the safety of all the workers. He also shared the dark times when the community was put under martial law by state officials who called in the National Guard to break up the union. A curfew was set and anyone having lights on after 10:00 p.m. or found outside their homes would be arrested and beat. No matter the attempts to disband their union, they stood firm as a union family. When there was an explosion and workers died, they would rally as a community to comfort and provide for the needs of the loved ones left behind. My family members lived, bled, and died to provide a life for their families in those mines, and each of them were proud, strong, and active union members and supporters.

Jump forward 76 years. I carry the blood of those union members. I am their legacy. As I gazed at a sign hanging on the wall in that museum with the words “Unions Begin With YOU! ” I could literally hear the words of my great-grandfather echoing in my mind, “It’s up to YOU to make a difference.” That’s the heart of our union. You make the difference in your workplace, in your community, in your state. Each of us have to decide how involved we want to be. No one can make that choice for us. Once we commit to be involved, we find others in order to form and unite as a union family. Just as the union members came together in solidarity to protect each other and their families in this small mining community in Eastern Utah, we as union members should come together in solidarity.

Many of our colleagues shy away from joining the union. Our opponents use the same tactics that have been employed for over a century to discourage workers from organizing. As in the past, our union is vital to protecting our rights today. In fact, unions are more important than ever in ensuring that our collective voice is heard. The more I have thought about the current condition of AFT in Utah, I have come to the realization that we have not held the course. We have tried to fit in with the status quo. We have a long proud history as a union in Utah. In 1919, the public school employees in Ogden organized a chartered AFT local. They faced extreme backlash from anti-union officials and their own district administration. Other locals sprang up for the next several decades under difficult circumstances and persecution. Yet they held up under the pressure and remained union proud and union strong. They only diminished when they moved away from their union roots and that tight knit union community.

So I propose we get back to the basics. We look, act, and function as a union! In our Annual Member Meeting and Delegate Assembly on Saturday June 24, 2017 we will start the process. YOU are personally invited by me to attend. (RSVP Here) It’s up to each of us to keep our heritage and legacy alive.

As I did that day, in that special room, in a small museum in Helper, Utah you have my commitment that I will do all in my power to keep our union alive and help you in your commitment to our cause.

In Solidarity,

Brad Asay


AFT Utah