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AFSCME Still forcing me to pay dues...

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Rc131431481

New member
State: Oregon

After the Janus vs afscme ruling, I sent a certified letter to afscme asking that dues cease and that I did not want to be a member of the Union anymore and that I would gladly revoke member benefits.

I received a letter back saying that they've changed me to a non-member dues payer. I was also informed that I will continue paying dues for the next 6 months until my one-year employment anniversary.

So now I'm being forced to pay dues as a non-member... Now my money is really not going towards anything useful.

Is this even legal I thought the Supreme Court ruling deemed the payments unconstitutional?

When I called afscme I was told that's just the way it is because I signed the voluntary membership card at the start of my employment.

Now I really have a bad taste in my mouth for unions...
 


Pinkie39

Member
But let me guess, you've benefited from the union negotiating raises for you. Negotiating lower health insurance rates for you. Bet you have a pension too, as a result of the union.

I'm an AFSCME member too. I feel anyone who doesn't want to pay dues shouldn't still get the raises or other benefits negotiated for by the union.
 

Rc131431481

New member
I just finished my 6 month probation. I had no choice, I had to join the Union to gain employment. I've not benefited from anything yet other than a starting wage. Now that my 6 month probation is up, I feel the time is now best to utilize the ruling on my behalf and hope for a pay for performance environment. That's all I've ever known.

That being said, they wrote me saying I now have zero benefits of a union member ....but....I still have to pay. THAT is what bothers me.
 

Taxing Matters

Overtaxed Member
I'm an AFSCME member too. I feel anyone who doesn't want to pay dues shouldn't still get the raises or other benefits negotiated for by the union.
I agree. At the same time, that nonmember should not be held back by the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, either. Unfortunately, they are. So it is not a complete one way street here.
 

CdwJava

Senior Member
I have never quite agreed with the political support provided to political candidates whose platforms are antithetical to law enforcement and public safety. But, because those anti-law enforcement candidates also tend to be pro-labor, part of my dues have gone to support candidates who oppose what I stand for and what I do. Now, that may change. Unfortunately, employees who decline to pay for representation will still benefit from the labor related work done by the union. Where, then, is the incentive to pay union dues?

Fortunately, public safety employees can add nifty things like added insurance and legal defense as part of their dues, so we have some measure of incentives to pay dues. Join and you can be covered if and when you are sued (or prosecuted as is likely to be more often the case in CA in the near future), don't join and you are on your own when faced with discipline and legal matters.

I fear that this ruling will gut unions ... and not necessarily for the better. Teachers unions, in particular, may be hit hardest among the public sector unions in CA. Their dues tend to be high and their political action tends to be VERY high. The only good that may come out of this is that conservatives in teachers unions may finally get some say in things if the unions want to retain those dues paying employees.
 

Taxing Matters

Overtaxed Member
I fear that this ruling will gut unions ... and not necessarily for the better.
IMO, gutting the union is not a bad thing. I think that in today's environment unions are largely unnecessary, as evidenced by the huge decline in unions in the private sector over the last 30 years. Unions tend to enable the poorest employees (ones who really should be let go) and hold back the best employees, while at the same time resulting in a variety of work rules that are burdensome to the employer and in some cases are patently ridiculous. At the very least, the Supreme Court got it right that no employee should be forced to pay dues to union if they are not a member, as those dues end up supporting political activity of the union that the member may disagree with. What that should force unions to do is to make a better case to nonmembers that the union offers them something of value and adopt policies that truly ensures that no fees of that member will support political causes or candidates that the member does not want to support. In short, this ruling will either force unions to improve or they may well risk dying out. And by the way, I was once a member a government employee union. I hated it once I saw how the union actually functioned. I'm not opposed to unions in concept, I just hate the way the typical union today operates.
 

CdwJava

Senior Member
IMO, gutting the union is not a bad thing. I think that in today's environment unions are largely unnecessary, as evidenced by the huge decline in unions in the private sector over the last 30 years. Unions tend to enable the poorest employees (ones who really should be let go) and hold back the best employees, while at the same time resulting in a variety of work rules that are burdensome to the employer and in some cases are patently ridiculous. At the very least, the Supreme Court got it right that no employee should be forced to pay dues to union if they are not a member, as those dues end up supporting political activity of the union that the member may disagree with. What that should force unions to do is to make a better case to nonmembers that the union offers them something of value and adopt policies that truly ensures that no fees of that member will support political causes or candidates that the member does not want to support. In short, this ruling will either force unions to improve or they may well risk dying out. And by the way, I was once a member a government employee union. I hated it once I saw how the union actually functioned. I'm not opposed to unions in concept, I just hate the way the typical union today operates.
If it had not been for unions, law enforcement might still be making sub-par wages and lack sufficient benefits to attract and retain qualified employees. I cannot speak for other states, but in CA law enforcement unions lack the real power that many seem to impart upon us. We cannot strike or conduct labor actions, and a contract can be imposed at impasse unless there is binding arbitration built in to the MOU and the arbitration favors the union. We are largely at at the whim of the jurisdiction and must rely on their good graces. About all that we have been able to rely on is the political clout that comes from the financial support of politicians. And even with all of our supposed power, my state has done their damnedest to gut laws and benefits for public safety here to the point where overtime and burnout is the norm.

I was once a member of AFSCME and the CTA and greatly disliked their strong-arm tactics and the fact that so much of my money went to liberal candidates that I disagreed with. However, they were focused largely on labor issues and unions tend to be a single issue animal - labor issues only, and to heck with other political leanings even if they might be counterproductive.

Fortunately, I suspect most law enforcement and fire union members will remain because they know the cost of litigation if they are out on their own. It's better to have the umbrella of a large association for those times when/if you will be sued or prosecuted, especially since we are now entering a time when doing your job within law and policy can still cost you that job if the right people scream loud enough. Police unions should come out of the other end pretty well. Teachers unions, not quite as well. Though losing the political clout that comes with deep pockets will impact our ability to affect legislation and candidates that are supportive of our people and legislation that we believe promotes law and order.

When I first started in law enforcement, officers were making so little money that you needed a second job and an average career resulted in a pension at the poverty level after 30 years (if you could last that long, physically). It was largely through union action through the 90s that enabled this to be a career that could attract and retain qualified people ... actions that are now being rapidly undone and it is the public, at least in CA, that will be paying the price for a generation to come.
 

Taxing Matters

Overtaxed Member
Though losing the political clout that comes with deep pockets will impact our ability to affect legislation and candidates that are supportive of our people and legislation that we believe promotes law and order.
Nothing prevents employees joining unions and voluntarily paying their dues to include lobbying, if that is what they want. Nor does the law prevent unions from lobbying and supporting candidates. But the forced extraction of dues from employees to pay for those political actions of the union when the employee objects to them is, IMO, wrong and thus I believe the Supreme Court decision was quite correct.
 

CdwJava

Senior Member
Nothing prevents employees joining unions and voluntarily paying their dues to include lobbying, if that is what they want. Nor does the law prevent unions from lobbying and supporting candidates. But the forced extraction of dues from employees to pay for those political actions of the union when the employee objects to them is, IMO, wrong and thus I believe the Supreme Court decision was quite correct.
The problem is that the ruling also allows non-paying employees to benefit from the expense and efforts of others. That seems inherently unfair and will likely lead to the demise of associations as people will eventually resent paying to represent those who pay nothing. And, if this creates a two-tiered system of represented employees versus non-represented ones, the employer can easily play them off against each other by baiting one with inducements not offered to the other. This ruling could very well have the effect of gutting labor organizations.

I spent many years as a Board Member and President of a public safety association (both police and fire employees) and it is a precarious position in the best of times. I suspect that police and fire associations will continue on much as they had because membership provides protections that are important in our line of work, but NON safety employee associations in the public sector will likely be gutted. Teachers unions have already started sending out opt-in or opt-out notices and there is fear that a great many of those members will drop the union. Politically, I am opposed to most of the actions of the teachers' unions, but as my wife and I have benefitted from collective bargaining efforts by these associations, we cannot in good conscience ask that others to pay our way so my wife is choosing to opt-in. Sadly, I suspect others will not abide by the same ethical decision.
 

Taxing Matters

Overtaxed Member
The problem is that the ruling also allows non-paying employees to benefit from the expense and efforts of others. That seems inherently unfair and will likely lead to the demise of associations as people will eventually resent paying to represent those who pay nothing. And, if this creates a two-tiered system of represented employees versus non-represented ones, the employer can easily play them off against each other by baiting one with inducements not offered to the other. This ruling could very well have the effect of gutting labor organizations.
The labor unions wanted the bargaining units to include both members and nonmembers for the reason you mentioned — excluding nonmembers allows the employer to go around the union and entice bargaining unit employees to opt out of the union. My view is that the unions should only get to include and bargain for those members who voluntarily choose to be in the union and pay the dues that members have to pay. With that set up, the union would only prosper if it can make the case to employees that the union offers them something valuable. That is the way it should work in our free enterprise based system. But the unions won their fight to have all employees in the same job be part of the bargaining unit anyway, whether they all wanted to be part of it and covered by the contract or not. That was bad enough. Then next they said "hey, we have to impose our dues on all the bargaining unit employees, too, whether they want it or not because otherwise those who don't get a free ride." But who wanted them to be included in the first place? That's right, the unions did. So until the Supreme Court's decision, the unions successfully got the law to (1) require all employees in the same job to be in the bargaining unit to give them more leverage with the employer, forcing employees who didn't want to belong to be subject to the CBA and then (2) get those objecting employees to pay for something they didn't want in the first place! I find it hard to believe that most people (other than union leaders, of course) would find that a fair arrangement.

The unions should have to do what businesses have to do when selling their stuff: convince people to voluntarily buy what they offer by showing that they have something worthwhile. Forcing employees to be part of something they don't want to belong to and then adding further injury by forcing them to pay for it is just wrong. That cannot be justified simply in the name making unions stronger. Unions should make themselves strong by actually a being good value for the employees. Too many unions are lazy and don't bother to do that because they haven't had to. Perhaps now they will out of a sense of self-preservation.
 

CdwJava

Senior Member
Years ago I was in unions that forced me to pay for political activities I disagreed with when I was part of AFSCME and then the CTA. I did not appreciate that because the "fair share" fees were absurd back then and did not accurately reflect the costs of negotiations and representation (a 90% rate was ridiculous). Another (law enforcement) agency I was in saw a schism within the union that the county utilized to their benefit by negotiating different wages and benefits with each, trying to encourage members to join the smaller less influential union. This situation existed until the parties came to their senses a few years later and became a single association again.

In the case of public safety associations we have no legal means of influencing or coercing the government body to act reasonably other than prayer. It is only through labor unions that I have managed to gain a reasonable level of pay and benefits, and the retirement I possess - something that is now under attack and could be rescinded if not for the efforts of umbrella labor organizations. If these organizations disappear, so might my pension. Without the labor union I would likely have left the career years ago as I would have had other more lucrative options to feed my family.

When you are unable to conduct labor actions and can have a contract imposed without recourse, you are left with no real option other than to try the political route. If the only way you can make do is to influence candidates and local propositions, then you have no choice but to be politically active. In my career I was twice screwed by imposed contracts, and saw my wages frozen for some 7 years as a result of an obstinate city council in another. At the University of CA police sergeants are unrepresented and are left to the mercy of the Regents and individual Chancellors. They have been underpaid for years and have zero influence in the process and are just now gaining a parity increase after several years and only because the recent pay raises for line staff (represented by a union) would have put top step officers at a higher pay scale than the first couple of steps for sergeants!

Forcing a few people to pay to represent those who choose NOT to pay is not any more fair than forcing me to pay for political action committees. Too many will ignore the benefits of the union for the math that shows that they can have the benefits without the cost. Only if the unions can manage to add extras (insurance, discounts, etc.) that will further increase dues can they hope to sell their product to the truly mercenary.
 

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