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Staff & Manager Guidelines

This guidance is provided for non-supervisory staff and managers within the bargaining unit regarding union discussions and activities.

You have the right to tell them your position or to simply refuse to talk with them about the issue. You can ask them to stop approaching you, pressuring you, or disrupting your workday. If they refuse, you should report it to your supervisor or Human Resources. Harassment or disruptiveness is not an acceptable organizing technique.

Yes. The university’s primary goal during this process is to foster a healthy, informed discussion that allows staff to make a free and educated choice about union representation. Sharing your opinions and viewpoints with your colleagues will be vital toward achieving this goal. 

While the university encourages open and candid conversation and diverse perspectives, you have the right not to discuss the matter. You are free to exercise your right not to engage in the discussion and to express this position to your co-workers or any else who tries to engage with you on this topic.

Union organizers and supporters are not allowed to interrupt work in order to advocate for unionization, so they should not be engaging in organizing activities during regular working hours. They can organize before or after regular working hours or during breaks.

You have the right to tell them you do not want to discuss it. Just as you have a right to freely express your views about unionization, you have the right to refuse to engage in a conversation with union organizers or anyone else about your views on unionization. If you feel that a union organizer has acted in a way that makes you uncomfortable, you should reach out to your supervisor or Human Resources for support.

We encourage every staff member to:

  1. become knowledgeable about what unionization would mean to non-supervisory staff in the Provost division,
  2. consider the pros and cons,
  3. make an informed personal decision, and
  4. vote in an election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board.

If you have questions or feedback for American University regarding staff unionization, email

Managers Do's What Managers Can Say



It’s legal to share publicly available facts from the NLRB,, and other reputable sources.


It’s legal to share why you feel a union is, or is not, needed for employees. 


It’s legal to share real examples and stories to highlight where unions have or have not been good choices in the past.

 Managers may:

  • Correct inaccurate statements you hear or read.

  • Listen to a staff member who comes to you freely to talk about the union. Be mindful not to threaten, interrogate, or make promises.
    • Explain that they would give up the ability to talk directly with you about wages, benefits, complaints, promotions, or other terms and conditions of employment
    • Explain the realities of collective bargaining:
      • Negotiations are likely to impact all the terms and conditions of employment, including wages, benefits, workplace complaints, and other processes employees currently enjoy.
      • That it is a give-and-take process in which neither side is likely to get exactly what it wants without giving something else up.
      • Neither the university nor the union are obligated to agree to what the other proposes.
  • Tell employees that dues or fees are a part of being in the bargaining unit.
  • Remind staff they may not use AU resources and time on organizing activities.
  • Report to your department head or HR if you see disruptions in the workplace.

Manager Don'ts What Managers Can't Do



It’s illegal to threaten any action, such as disciplining an employee who engages in union organizing or closing a unit or office if the employees vote a union in.


 It’s illegal to interrogate employees about their opinions on unionization or their union activities.


It’s illegal to promise benefits or pay increases to employees if they withhold support for the union


It’s illegal to create an impression that the university is surveilling organizing activities (such as by attending or monitoring events which are not open to all absent an invitation or permission).

Managers cannot:

  • Pressure employees to vote either way in an election. It’s a personal decision.
  • Make negative comments about employees who want a union (or those who oppose the idea).
  • Ask employees about their position, or the position of their fellow employees, on the union.
  • Ask about the status of the unionization effort.
  • Stop employees from engaging in organizing activities during non-work time.