January 11, 2016 — WEAR RED to support Collective Bargaining

January 11, begins the Supreme Court of the United States hearing on Friedrichs v California Teacher’s Association – this case seeks to eliminate the “fair share” contributions that non-union members must make.

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association centers around the future of fair share fees, sometimes called agency fee. Such fees have been permitted for decades in the United States and are part of tens of thousands of public sector collective bargaining relationships. In fact, twenty-three states permit public sector employers to require that employees pay such fees to cover the costs of union representation that the employer relies upon.

A fair share fee payer is someone who has elected not to be a union member, but who is still fully covered by the union contract and has full access to the rights and benefits provided by that contract. In states that allow representation fees, individuals who enjoy contractual benefits may be required to pay for those benefits, rather than “free ride” on the contributions and work of others. The fair share fees that may be charged for those services, however, are limited and highly regulated. Importantly, the procedures that have been established for calculating and collecting fair share fees ensure that feepayers do not pay even a penny for union political activities with which a feepayer may disagree.

The petitioners in Friedrichs, who are supported by the conservative legal group Center for Individual Rights, seek to overturn all of this history and decades of precedent on the theory that the First Amendment prohibits fair share fees. They would have it that public sector employees, who generally enjoy no First Amendment rights at work at all, have a constitutional right not to pay the fair costs of union representation. If the Supreme Court were to accept that reactionary view, the strength of public sector bargaining would be undermined as unions would be required to represent for free individuals who benefitted from their services but declined to pay for them. That result would be devastating for our schools and students.

neaToday – http://neatoday.org/2015/07/02/supreme-courts-review-of-fair-share-threatens-working-families-and-public-services-say-labor-leaders/

The elimination of Fair Share fees is a THREAT to the health and welfare of Unions.  Unions are THE force that keeps collective bargaining alive in this country.  Below are just SOME of the reasons everyone needs Collective Bargaining!

What is Collective Bargaining?

Collective bargaining is a form of employer–employee relations that allows employees to be heard in the workplace on issues that affect them. Collective bargaining offers all workers  the advantage of being able to speak with one voice.

What are the benefits of having a Collective Bargaining Unit?


Professionals and non-professionals use collective bargaining to preserve workplace integrity and respect, and create safe, professional, and rewarding work environments. They customize collective bargaining agreements to meet the needs of the specific employer and the employees.

There is a lot of variety in the collective bargaining agreements negotiated on behalf of professionals. Many of these collective bargaining agreements set a wage floor. The employee and the employer are then free to negotiate for a salary based on individual performance or other factors above the minimum salary.

For example, broadcast technicians at CBS Broadcasting, Inc. (CBS) have a collective bargaining agreement that sets forth minimum weekly salaries based on their position and length of employment with CBS.

Another compensation example comes from the Temple University faculty and librarians.  Their collective bargaining agreement establishes that the faculty and librarians are eligible for merit pay. Merit pay at Temple University is given in the form of “merit awards.”

Unions also help to counter pay inequities based on gender and minority status. The difference between men and women’s earnings has a significant impact on women’s lifetime earnings and retirement benefits. Unions have been successful in helping to close the wage gap. In 2014, the wage gap in median weekly among full-time, nonunion workers was 19 percent and the wage gap among union men and women was 11 percent.

Work Place Concerns

Through collective bargaining, workers can earn and maintain middle-class wages; have access to benefits, including health and pension; and bargain on issues that allow workers to do their jobs right. One goal of collective bargaining is for workers to be heard on non-compensation issues.

Teachers in the San Francisco Unified School District also bargained to address health and safety. The collective bargaining agreement requires that: there be a comprehensive safety and disaster plan; all safety notices be conspicuously posted; information from the Health Department be immediately provided to teachers; teachers have a mechanism for immediately notifying district officials of hazardous conditions; and all classrooms have a first-aid kit.

Collective bargaining agreements for firefighters often include provisions for the acquisition, cleaning, and maintenance of “turnout gear,” the lifesaving equipment worn by firefighters, as well as other safety equipment. For example, the City of Philadelphia and the International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 22 bargained for the acquisition, cleaning, and maintenance of protective clothing.

Members of arts, entertainment, and media unions can face unique challenges in the workplace. For example, SAG-AFTRA bargains protections for stunt performers in its film and television contracts. Specifically, “a qualified first-aid person, visually identifiable, shall be present on all sets where hazardous work is planned.

Registered nurses (RN) typically bargain for safe staffing levels in their collective bargaining agreements. Safe staffing in hospitals is shown to significantly lower patient mortality and improve nurse retention. Thus, many nurses, including those in New Jersey AFT, AFL-CIO Local 5089 and Maryland AFT, AFL-CIO Local 5197, use collective bargaining to improve patient care and outcomes.

RNs at Mt. Clemens General Hospital in Mt. Clemens, Michigan, reached a new contract where a three percent pay raise offered by the hospital was turned down in favor of a two percent raise and the hiring of 25 additional nurses in an effort to offer better, more professional patient care.

Addressing Grievances and Discipline

A central tenet of all collective bargaining agreements is due process. Due process requires that an employee have notice and an opportunity to respond to allegations made by the employer.

The employer and the union establish and agree to grievance and discipline procedures. Nearly all collective bargaining agreements have provisions for resolving grievances and disciplining employees. Those provisions are clearly set forth, in writing, in the collective bargaining agreement, which is distributed to all union members. Collective bargaining agreements only require that an employer follow procedures that are clearly laid out in the agreement when seeking to reprimand, demote, or terminate an employee. A union job is not a “job for life.” However, a union job does afford workers greater protection against unfair unilateral actions by employers.

The collective bargaining agreement between the Defense Contract Management Agency and the American Federation of Government Employees, Council 170 provides for the creation and use of written performance plans to objectively monitor employee progress. Employees who receive successful evaluations may be eligible for cash awards, time-off awards, quality step increases, and honorary awards, among other things. In the case of employees who receive a poor performance evaluation, supervisors must take action to warn employees of the poor performance and take other steps to try to improve the employee’s performance. If, after taking steps to improve performance, that is not possible, then the supervisor must take action to reassign, demote, or remove the employee. The action required as a result of unacceptable performance is clearly laid out in just two pages in the collective bargaining agreement.

excerpts from http://dpeaflcio.org/programs-publications/issue-fact-sheets/the-benefits-of-collective-bargaining-for-professional-and-technical-workers/

Why wouldn’t EVERY CITIZEN want a contract that provides for fair compensation, safe and fully functional workplaces, and fair treatment by employers???  I have happily paid my union dues every year of my working life, grateful that there is a dedicated group of fellow employees who are willing to work countless hours to ensure I have a living wage, benefits and fair treatment.

It is worth every penny and more.


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