1. What is Janus v AFSCME?
The Supreme Court ruling in Janus ended fair share fees and now former fee-payers are no longer required to support the costs of their representation.
2. What is the immediate impact of an adverse decision on our union?
The immediate impact is that the union would no longer be allowed to collect what are called fair-share fees, which are assessed to non-members of our public sector bargaining units to help cover the cost of negotiating and defending the collective bargaining agreement. This fight over fair-share fees is the crux of so-called Right to Work initiatives that aim to weaken unions and the working families they represent.
3. When will we know the long-term impact of this decision?
While we immediately lose fair-share revenue, our union has prepared diligently for this decision: building membership and engaging members. We are in a strong position to withstand the loss of this revenue because this decision will not stop dues-paying members from organizing and fighting for their rights. Members’ dues will continue to be deduced per the contract, and your membership status will remain intact. In states where membership and organizing has remained strong in the face of Right to Work laws, unions have flourished.
4. Will our contract remain in place?
Yes. The Janus case is about the fair share portion of our bargaining agreements. All other provisions remain in effect. Only if our membership drops will this adverse decision threatens our ability to maintain our contract and our ability to negotiate new gains. If we can continue to grow our membership, our negotiating power grows with it.
5. Will we be having a special meeting or phone call to discuss this?
Yes. We are planning regional union meetings across the state (and across bargaining units) to discuss this case and its implications. We expect to start rolling out meetings within a few weeks after the decision.
6. Why should I stay in the union when I can quit and keep the benefits?
Without members, there is no union. In states where Right to Work has been legislated (like in Wisconsin), and membership has dropped, employees have seen significant drops in take-home pay over 4 – 5 years. In states where membership has held strong or increased, employees have been able to maintain their wages and benefits. If you choose to leave the union, there is no union. Those hard-fought benefits — including wages, health care, pensions, workplace safety — will be left to the employer’s discretion. In other words, you will have no power. Remember that there is strength in numbers: we have more bargaining power when we have more members.
7. What are some differences in benefits between member and non-members?
Non-members cannot give input or vote on SEA’s contract proposals and negotiations or serve on negotiating committees. They also do not receive any of the growing number of regional discounts or the national SEIU member discounts that members continue to enjoy, including free college tuition offered through Eastern Gateway Community College and a discounted college program offered through SNHU.
8. Is SEA/SEIU Local 1984 still the exclusive representative between state employees and the State ?
Absolutely. The Janus case does not change this fact. We remain committed to exclusive representation and to the duty of fair representation. As the old union saying goes “united we bargain, divided we beg”. We expect to start negotiations for the 2019-2021 contract this fall.
9. How does this impact non-government (private) employees?
The Janus decision applies only to public sector unions, so any unionized employees working for a private business will still have fair share fees deducted if the CBA provides for such fees.