In recent months, we have discussed what the outcome of the U.S. Supreme Court case Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 could mean to us.
The court heard oral arguments on Feb. 26. Justices are considering whether to overturn 40 years of legal precedent and create a class of “free riders,” people who benefit from our contract negotiations while paying nothing.
Under the law, unions must represent all workers, whether they are members or non-members, so our union will have to continue to represent workers, even those who don’t contribute.
You may be asking, ‘what does this have to do with me?’ The answer is that free riders weaken unions and put our contracts at risk.
Anti-union groups are going to tell you that the Janus decision will give you the “freedom” to choose whether to stay in our union, and you will no longer be “forced” to be a union member.
The truth is you have never been forced to join the union or pay any fees that fund political activities. Currently, workers who opt not to join pay an “agency” or “fair share” fee that is used to pay the costs of their representation, including negotiations and defending their contract and their rights under it.
This spring, the Supreme Court is likely going to decide that fair share fees are unconstitutional.
This puts our contracts in jeopardy because if enough workers stop paying dues, our union could be decertified at your workplace.
If that happens, your contract would go away. If you lose your union contract, you risk losing fair wages, health insurance, paid time off, seniority rights, retirement security and every other protection and right you’re currently guaranteed.
Your employer would control all aspects of your employment, including promotions. Your advancement would depend solely on the whims of management.
If you face a potential safety and health hazard while doing your job, it would be much more difficult to get your employer to correct the problem since unions are the major reason safety and health conditions have vastly improved at workplaces.
If you face any discipline from your employer, your union won’t be there to protect you.
You have the power to stop this from happening simply by remaining a dues paying member of CSEA.
If we all continue to pay our dues, we can safeguard our contracts and our rights. With a strong union, we ensure our freedom to have a fair return on our work that far exceeds the price of your membership.
Unions have built the middle class in our country, and unions have lifted millions of people out of poverty. We have the power to not only improve ourselves and our families, but we have the power to improve our country.
Stay union, stay strong!