Union representation at the bargaining table does not come for free. While union membership is a personal decision, paying for the unions is not optional in California. However, the United States Supreme Court may soon change that, and if it does, California will have to make some changes to the way unions do business. If you have concerns related to unions in California, a local employment attorney should be consulted.
Justification for Fair Share
Because unions are legally obliged to represent all workers, many believe it is only reasonable to expect all workers to contribute to the costs associated with that representation. Clearly, these workers profit from the salary and benefit packages negotiated by unions, arbitration efforts, and other administrative work. Safe working conditions protect all workers, too. That being said, why allow freeloaders to reap the benefits of hard-fought negotiations if they are not willing to help pay the cost of those efforts? A simple agency fee, or Fair Share, ensures that all stakeholders who benefit from contract negotiations contribute a bit. Since non-members are not required to assist in paying for union activities that are not affiliated with negotiations (such as political action), Fair Share seems more than equitable to supporters of the program.
On the Other Hand…
Conversely, many who choose not to join a union are adamant in their reasons to refrain from membership. As one teacher who disagrees with the union says, “The union’s supposed financial benefits aren’t worth the moral cost.” Her view is that unions have lost sight of the most important aspects of education – the students. Therefore, she wants nothing to do with the union, particularly the annual fees she has been forced to fork over to the organization throughout her career. In her view, unions are all about political action, and it makes no sense to force her to subsidize the opinions of an organization that does not represent her views. By the way, plenty of unions do well in states that do not require agency fees, so why should Californians be stuck with this mandatory charge?
Impact of Change
A lot is at stake for unions in California. Some analysts predict the total unraveling of unionism in the public sector, in fact. They point to Wisconsin, where changes in state law eliminating agency fees resulted in a 50% decline in union membership. Furthermore, the National Education Association reports that union membership increased by over 5,000 in states that allowed agency fees in 2014, while the decline in union membership in states that bar agency fees were nearly 10 times that number. It appears that some people who would otherwise shun membership figure they might as well join if they have to pay fees anyway. Absent those mandatory fees, why bother?
Understanding Unions in the Public Sector
Unions have traditionally been powerful entities in the public sector, but have held waning influence in recent years. If you are an employee with concerns about your rights within or outside of a union, the knowledgeable legal team at HKM Employment Attorneys, Los Angles, for a case consultation.