Another Attack Against Labor Unions
BY: Jeff Perry, Business Agent
It’s not real fun to have to sit across the table from so many anti-union, Management rights extremists. It’s worse when the Ohio State Legislators tries to lash out at unions with draconian changes to the collective bargaining law. Now there is another blatant attack against public sector unions taking place in the US Supreme Court!
The outcome to Harris v. Quinn isn’t expected until June. If it goes the wrong way, things could go real bad for public sector unions and those they represent.
The topic is fair share fees. They are the fees a union can charge members of a bargaining unit that are not members of the union. The reason unions have been allowed to charge a fair share fee is because the non-members benefit from the work of the union in the same way as union members. In fact, unions are compelled to represent non-union employees should they have disciplinary charges brought against them. They also have the right to file a grievance should the contract be violated. Most importantly to most, they end up getting paid the same wages as union members.
While they don’t have the right to participate in the creation of contract proposals or to vote for or against a contract, many union members don’t take part in or vote on contracts either. While the OPBA does offer many other benefits over and above those required by law, many other unions don’t. Those unions in particular, though all unions in general, would be exposed to the possibility of declining membership.
Many short sighted members would choose to save the cost of the union dues in the hope that the union will do their job anyway. Given the extreme difference in the amount of money I make compared to those working for the dark side (management representatives), and the difference in the amount the dark side charges the Employer compared to what the Union Charges its members, the potential savings would really cost the employees a whole lot more than they might save!
The case was brought from Illinois when the State allowed the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to organize home health care aids. The employees that brought the case either voted against organizing or aren’t members of the SEIU. They don’t feel they should even be classified as state workers since they can be fired by the family whose home they actual work in.
Fortunately, the Seventh Circuit Court disagreed. They ruled the Employees did indeed work for the State of Illinois. Further, they followed the 1977 ruling by the Supreme Court that allowed for fair share fees to be charged to non-member employees for those states that allow the fees.
When the case was tried, many of the conservative members appeared to agree with the plaintiffs. Justice Kennedy spoke of the young employee who wanted to fight for wages instead of increased pension, or those who might fundamentally disagree with the direction of the union. However, others did note that many employers in the private sector would rather deal with one union than a large number of individuals.
Hopefully the Supreme Court will keep the fair share fee. In Ohio, we have enough to worry about without losing that!