A Challenge for our Union: Janus v. AFSCME
The US Supreme Court will rule on a case this year that will affect public sector unions across the country, including SHARE. The good news is that by knowing about it and taking action together, SHARE members can decide how to keep our union strong.
There was a similar case in 2016 called Friedrichs v. the California Teachers Association. This case is called Janus v. AFSCME.
What is the Case About?
The case is about taking away public-sector workers' ability to have a voice in the workplace by decreasing union funding. Under U.S. labor law, a union has to represent everyone in the bargaining unit equally. Everybody pays dues or fees because everybody benefits. For people who don't want to be voting union members, the unions can charge a "fair share fee" to cover the cost of negotiating contracts and supporting those members. The Supreme Court is now being asked to decide that charging "fair share fees" is unconstitutional for public-sector unions.
Attack on our Communities
This tactic of defunding unions is clever – it is tempting to employees because in the short term, not paying union dues is a way for each family to save money. However, in the long term, not paying dues will prevent unions from negotiating raises to keep up with the costs of living, hold onto good benefits, and create workplace safety measures. This is true at UMMS and also in other public-sector jobs. Unions in Worcester and across the country negotiate contracts for our public-school teachers, firefighters, public works, police, postal service workers, and so many more jobs that make our communities function. Strong unions give workers a united voice to advocate for good jobs, which are the foundation of healthy local communities.
What is the Timeline?
The Supreme Court will hear arguments on February 26 and will make a decision by June. Legal experts predict that this Supreme Court will likely rule against the unions.
Choosing to Support Each Other, Again
In 1997, employees decided that they wanted a union here at UMMS. It was a big decision – no one knew exactly what it would mean to have a union, they only knew what it was like without one. They got information, talked it over together, and voted to form SHARE because they wanted to have a say in decisions that affect them.
Now, we have a new challenge. Most people currently in SHARE were not here before the union election. It is almost the opposite situation – we don’t all know what it is like here without a union. Over the next couple of months, we will talk about the difference between having a union and not. How do we keep our union strong and effective? What are the benefits of having a union, and is it worth the cost of dues? What was it like before we had SHARE?
Join the Discussion
We will be talking more about this at our monthly information meetings, and in individual conversations. To ask questions and discuss this further, please talk to someone who is active with SHARE or call the SHARE office at 508-929-4020.