Have You Recommitted Yet?

To the Local 1600:

We are asking all members in Local 1600 to fill out new membership applications. We are doing this for two reasons: 1) to make sure we have your current contact information on file and 2) to create a system of membership and dues deduction that will help keep our union strong in the face of a coming Supreme Court decision: Janus vs. AFSCME. Much like the Friedrichs case that we were looking at closely last year, a likely decision against us will make fair share dues unconstitutional for public sector employees. This means that anyone could opt out of paying dues at any time, even while still enjoying the hard-fought benefits of our contract. This decision will likely occur in June 2018 and we need to be prepared for it.

The possibility of members to opt out at any time would make running the union extremely difficult since we wouldn’t know how much revenue is coming in at any one time. Therefore, the new application commits the member to paying dues and if they choose to opt out of membership, they can only do so during the revocation period of the month of August. It essentially works like the “open enrollment” process of medical insurance: any changes must be done at that time. Some members have asked questions about language which states that dues deduction “shall be irrevocable, regardless of whether I am or remain a member of the union…”. They have interpreted that to mean that we would continue to take dues out if a member retires or resigns. That is NOT the case. Dues deduction will only take place while a member is employed. For that reason, it states at the beginning of the Dues Authorization section: “During my employment…”.

Of course, we will work hard with your chapter leadership to make sure that our members do not opt out of being a member. We have hired new staff to help chapters sign up members. We are going into negotiations soon and we need to stand strong and united if we are to get a good contract. We are beginning a process of membership engagement to talk to members about the value of unions. If you compare the salaries and benefits in any job between union and non-union employees, statistics show overwhelmingly that union employees make more money and have better benefits. Standing together in a union offers protection against abuses at work and provides for a better livelihood for all our members. This new membership application is part of the process of surviving in the anti-union political environment in which we are heading.

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