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How to become well-informed about the current context in which public employees are working? Join and become an active union member!
Faculty of all ranks at Rutgers University are public employees and therefore qualify for union membership, even if your salary comes from external grants. The information below illustrates the many ways that full membership is important. The true difference between the nonmember representation fee and full membership is that full union members know the value of having a union. They are ready to stand by their colleagues and have claimed their democratic right to have a voice in improving and defending their employment. If you are paying only the nonmember representation fee, you are not a member of the union. New Jersey state labor law requires the deduction of this fee from nonmembers where there is a public sector union with the duty of fair representation for all employees in a union bargaining unit. Becoming a member of the union is not about the money. The additional .01% that you pay a year serves as a pledge to stand alongside your colleagues and protect and enrich your quality of work.
And though our union has been established and strong since 1972, corporatizing interests make the threat of weakening our union very real. There are attacks being levied against public sector unions everyday, from our state legislators, to our governor, and most recently by our federal supreme court. The case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, was the first attempt to deny free speech rights to unions and weaken our ability to act in the collective interest.
After the Friedrichs case ended on a 4-4 tie, the US Supreme Court has taken up another case in which the constitutionality of the nonmember representation fee is being challenged: Janus v AFSCME.
Oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court for the Janus case are scheduled to begin on February 26, 2018. Read the amicus brief filed by AFT and NEA here.
The plaintiffs argued that they are being forced to pay an representation fee for political activities and speech with which they do not agree. The reality is that the erasure of representation fee would be a financial death blow for unons across the country. At Rutgers, the blow would have disallowed your staff. member leaders, and yourself from forcefully protecting what you've gained as a union. In short: all the terms and conditions of employment that we have achieved over the years and most recently fought for, e.g. regular salary increases, fair evaluation and promotion procedures, key protections (such as tenure or no dismissal without a legitimate reason), and more would be at the risk of being lost.
For now, the union's right to collect a representation fee remains the law, but it appears that the U.S. Supreme Court may decide that any law in any state that requires a nonmember fee for employees represented by a public sector union. Without a union wages and benefits are reduced and made competitive, and you must ask yourself -- who would this benefit? Not you, not your students, but corporate interests. Going forward, the only thing that stands between us and a similar attack in New Jersey is a robust, healthy union. This is why your membership is so important.
-If you are a full member, consult with us (your elected leaders and staff) to get conversations going among your colleagues about the value of being a union with active members.
-If you are paying the representation fee, you may have thought that you were already a member. Reach out to us to schedule time to claim your right to have a voice in your union as a full member.
With the union, we can advocate more effectively because we are developing member-defined issues and policies to fight for. We work together to make sure Rutgers fulfills its educational and research mission for the common good.