Paul Blujus, Local 003 President
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On Thursday, April 12, 2018, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D, NY) signed a bill giving unions relief from the anticipated United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decision of Janus v. AFSCME Council 31. As stated in my March article, the SCOTUS is expected to rule against public sector unions and take away their ability to collect an “agency fee” or “fair-share”. These fees are responsible for covering the cost of contractual bargaining and representation, taking them away would convert a state to a right to work zone.
Cuomo, who is running for re-election, signed the bill at the headquarters of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT). The law, generated during this year’s budget talks, lowers the number of services a public-sector union in NY state must provide to workers who opt out of membership. These services include disciplinary representation, legal representation, member benefit insurance programs etc.
The law also states the employer must notify the union, within 30 days, after someone is hired and provide their name, home address and work location. The union will then have 30 days to meet with the new employee to sell the benefits of union membership.
Whereas Gov. Cuomo has not always been a friend to the public sector, in particular CSEA, we cannot deny that what he has done here is provide all public-sector unions in NYS a greater chance to grow!
JANUS V. AFSCME COUNCIL 31
Here we go again. Once more, our unions are under attack. A Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decision of 4-4 (due to the death of Justice Antonin Scalia) in the matter of Friedrichs v. California Teacher Association in March of 2016 gave public unions a temporary reprieve in the attempt to make the remaining 22 states of the US (including NY) “right to work” states.
In 1977, SCOTUS ruled in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education public employees did not have to be members of a union but they could be held responsible for the cost of contractual bargaining and representation. These costs are known as “agency fee” or “fair-share”.
On February 9, 2015 Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner (R) attempted to overturn the ability of public unions to collect agency fees in his state when he issued an executive order to stop the fees from being sent to the unions and instead held in escrow until resolution of the matter. On the same day, the Illinois Governor sued in US District Court seeking a declaratory judgement that the agency fees are in violation of the First Amendment and his executive order lawful.
A motion was filed on March 23, 2015 Mark Janus and two other state employees were granted permission by the court to intervene as plaintiffs. The three Illinois employees sought an injunction against AFSCME plus damages as well as a declaration of judgement. Eventually the court ruled against Gov. Rauner but the court battle continues on with the SCOTUS scheduled to hear Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 on February 26, 2018.
What could happen?
If the mostly conservative SCOTUS rules against AFSCME, the entire US public sector will end up being a “right to work” zone. Yes, this even includes CSEA! Right to work laws weaken union members. It is nothing but camouflage for political and corporate greed. In existing “right to work” states union members have lost their ability to enforce contracts, protect their rights, and wages are on average 3.2% less (https://www.epi.org/publication/right-to-work-states-have-lower-wages/).
The first step to union busting is to falsely claim “right to work” protects workers who don’t want to join unions or disagree with a union’s politics. Unlike the multi-national corporations, Right to Work Committee and the US Chamber of Commerce, backing this lawsuit, union members are free thinkers who believe in the freedom a union can provide.
Right to work equals right to lose! If you are an agency fee payer and would like to talk about membership, CLICK HERE