The American Federation of Teachers-Utah Council wants the Salt Lake School District to hold elections to determine the employee bargaining units.

AFT Executive Director Paul Henderson said the current policy discourages "competing organizations from being democratically organized."He said that the Salt Lake Board of Education policy should be changed so that elections are allowed.

Business administrator W. Gary Harmer said there is no formal, written policy, but in practice, the district, for years, has recognized any union that has at least 51 percent of the employees as members.

"We will deal with the majority of the employees, but we won't deal with more than one representative at a time. That's too disruptive," Harmer said.

Under the AFT proposal, an election would be triggered to determine the recognized employee bargaining unit when 30 percent of the employees in a bargaining group sign membership cards authorizing an employee organization to represent them.

Such an election should be held now among the district's food service workers, said Henderson. He said that most food service workers now belong to AFT.

Currently, the food service workers, which include 43 full-time workers, 62 part-time workers and 15 administrators, are officially represented by the Utah School Employees Association.

The USEA also represents the buildings and grounds workers and the transportation employees. The AFT represents Salt Lake's secretarial and clerical help. The Utah Education Association speaks for the district's largest employee group - its 1,200 teachers - at the bargaining table.

Harmer said he perdiocially asks the unions for copies of membership lists so he can vertify that the majority support them. Those lists are checked with employees.

Holding an election would necessitate elaborate arrangements to guarantee its fairness, Harmer said. Henderson said that could be solved by bringing a neutral third party.