Today, Trump’s Supreme Court issued the decision we expected in Janus v. AFSCME. You’ll hear a lot of discussion in the news about what this means for unions, for public education and for workers. Some of you may not realize that you are not yet a member of our union. Others of you may have opted not to join the faculty union in the past because you paid a fee (85% of membership dues) whether or not you joined; that is no longer the case. If you’re hoping to see a salary increase, more affordable healthcare, and strong policies for achieving equity as a result of the contract we’re currently negotiating, you’ll need to join your union to support this work.
As a non-member of Rutgers AAUP-AFT, you have been paying a representation fee (also known as an “agency fee”) to cover the costs of the representation you receive from the union. Unions are legally required to work on behalf of everyone in a bargaining unit—the pay increases, the promotion and other employment policies and the protections for academic freedom that we negotiate apply to everyone. In the past, faculty like you who chose not to join the union have paid a fee to cover the cost of this essential and sometimes expensive work. Now, you will pay nothing.
While your paycheck will increase modestly as this fee disappears, this could be the most expensive pay raise you’ve ever seen. One independent analysis suggests that if we don’t retain enough union members, our pay could decrease by as much as 3.7% per year (Figure 6).
In our last contract, we achieved raises of just over 2% per year, when management initially proposed no pay raise at all; additional weeks of parental leave worth thousands of dollars in saved childcare costs as well as the unquantifiable ability to care for a new family member and bond; and much more. We’re at the bargaining table now working to achieve gains that will improve the lives of all Rutgers faculty. Joining the union demonstrates that these priorities matter to you, that a pay freeze or continued increases to health insurance costs are simply not acceptable to you, and that you’re willing to contribute to the collective effort to make improvements for all of us.
This ruling immediately turns all non-members into what is known as a “free rider”—i.e., one who benefits from the gains while leaving the costs to others. By joining the union you won’t be a free rider, and you’ll send a message that affordable health insurance, academic freedom and fair pay increases are important. Take a minute to join using this electronic membership form so that you aren’t benefiting from work funded by your union colleagues without paying a fair share yourself (full dues are 0.75% of salary, as opposed to the 0.64% you’ve been paying).
The same groups who funded Janus v. AFSCME at the Supreme Court have been attacking tenure, academic freedom and funding for public higher education in Trenton, Albany, Harrisburg and state houses across the country. Our best defense is a strong union that brings faculty together.
If you have any questions, please write back to us in the next few days.
Deepa, David, Becky and Rob
Deepa Kumar, President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
David M. Hughes, VP, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Rebecca Givan, Treasurer, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Rob Scott, Secretary, Rutgers AAUP-AFT