On June 27, 2018 the United States Supreme Court decided Janus v. AFSCME. The decision overturns more than 40 years of legal precedent, in a direct attack on workers and their unions.
This morning we have already received dozens of texts, phone calls and emails about this important case and how it impacts CEMA/OE3. CEMA is a management association that is already an opt-in organization. That means we are not impacted by this decision directly. Who it will impact are other County and Court unions like SEIU, RNPA, SCPEA where membership is a requirement for employment. The decision will not impact private sector unions, nor does it appear to impact Management Associations like CEMA. Who it will impact are:
Public Employee Unions where membership is a condition of employment. Several key changes will occur to this type of Union which is NOT applicable to CEMA/OE3.
1) Members must now opt into the Union (the way CEMA has always done it)
2) Fee pay or fair share membership will no longer be allowed
3) Representation of non-dues paying members may be required (still undergoing analysis)
Below are some answers to common questions:
What is the Janus case really about?
The Supreme Court’s decision is part of an organized attack on workers and their unions, backed by corporate special interests and wealthy elites. Unions play a critical role in workers’ ability to fight for good benefits, higher wages, retirement security, job safety, and other issues. For many years, right-wing groups have been trying to undermine unions by defunding them, including by filing lawsuits like Janus. These groups and the corporate billionaires who are funding them want to take away workers’ voice on the job and to prevent them from coming together to improve their lives and communities.
What did the Supreme Court decide?
The court’s decision reverses more than 40 years of rulings finding that all public sector workers can be required to pay their fair share of representation costs, even if they chose not to become union members. For decades, this rule has required basic fairness among workers—everyone who benefits from the union also contributes. The Supreme Court’s decision attacks this principle and creates an incentive for some to “free ride” by not paying anything toward representation. The real goal? The court is siding with employers who want to turn workers into free-riders in order to strip the unions of resources and weaken their ability to fight for raises and benefits for all working people.
Isn’t Janus about the right to free speech for public employees?
Long before Janus, workers have always had a choice about whether to be a union member or not. No employee is ever forced to join the union. Workers who don’t want to are not required to contribute to the union’s political message. So this has never been about freedom of speech—instead it has always been about taking resources away from workers’ democratically controlled unions and making it easier for corporate interests to undermine the wages, pensions, and benefits of public employees and to repeal laws that protect workers.
Why are fair-share fees important?
Like any organization, unions need resources to represent workers and to fight for better wages, health care, and retirement benefits. Fair-share fees are what non-members pay to contribute to the expenses involved in bargaining, educating workers about their rights and their contract, investigating and pursuing grievances, enforcing our contract, fighting for fairness and respect on the job, strengthening job security, winning wage increases and protecting our benefits. It’s only fair that everyone contributes to the costs of negotiating those benefits and protections.
What does the decision mean for fair share fees?
The decision means that the employer will not collect fair share fees anymore. The union will be funded only by dues and contributions that workers have signed up to make.
How will this affect our bargaining unit?
The decision makes it even more important to make sure that all our co-workers are union members and actively involved in helping win for working people! The better organized we are the stronger our union will be.
Does the Union have to represent non-members?
The Union is still the exclusive representative for all employees in the bargaining unit, so the Union still has to represent non-members. This means that the wages and benefits we bargain and the contract we enforce will apply equally to everyone. That’s why everyone who benefits should help build the union. Those who drop may not realize it yet, but they are actually making it harder for anyone to improve their working conditions.
What are the consequences for me if I drop?
Non-members will not be permitted to vote for union officers, attend member-only meetings or vote on contracts that directly impact their working conditions. More importantly, those who drop are actually siding with the boss by telling their co-workers that they don’t care about getting the best contract possible or enforcing it. Your co-workers depend on you to remain an active union member and to contribute to the union’s ability to fight for all workers.
Why should I be a union member?
Being a member means you are coming together with your coworkers to build a better workplace and community. Union workers have higher wages than non-union workers, enjoy greater job protections, and have a voice on the job and in dealing with management. But a union is only as strong as its membership—unless there is a strong and involved membership, the union will not have the collective power that it needs to win good wages and benefits.
What should I do if EMPLOYER is misclassifying me as if I were not a member when I am a union member?
If you discover that EMPLOYER is treating you as if you were not in the union even though you are a member, please contact your union representative as soon as possible.
What can we do about Janus?
The most important thing for members and their unions to do now is to organize their coworkers to become and stay members. Even with the Janus decision, we can continue to make gains for ourselves and for workers everywhere by coming together to form strong unions and to fight for improvements.
Remember that while Janus does not directly impact CEMA/OE3 it is an attack on working people everywhere and is a concerted effort to weaken Unions nationally. While CEMA continues our efforts to expand our membership and better represent you, we will be working in the coming weeks with other Unions to help gird them from losses of members and coordinate with our National Parent Union, OE3 on fighting back. Janus is a loss for Unions, make no mistake, but it is one fight of many. We will continue to grow stronger locally and nationally in a deliberate, strategic way.