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September 2018


Union strong
Kevin Peterman


  Union Strong!

We knew it was coming and, sure enough, the June U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME overturned the union’s right to collect fair share agency fees from non-union members. As a result, agency fee payers are now nonmembers (in my opinion, freeloaders).

Nonmembers need to know that being in the union and paying their fair share has major advantages. Sometimes faculty feel as though they do not need to be members because they are well respected and have good relationships with their supervisors, colleagues and students. But those faculty should proceed with caution—as Kevin McCoy’s article in this issue notes.

Nonmembers will not enjoy all the protections members are entitled to. Sure, nonmembers will have rights to salary and other items in the contract, but consider this overview of all the benefits they will not get:
  • Legal defense and representation services, e.g., assistance with discrimination claims, unemployment appeals, workers compensation claims, etc., above and beyond the FA contract
  • Day-to-day advice and representation by the FA such as when being questioned by an administrator
  • Rights to purchase or maintain endorsed member benefit products and services beyond the FA contract
  • The right to vote in FA elections including officer elections and contract ratification, the right to represent your coworkers via union elected office and the right to attend FA activities or meetings.

Our state federation, the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), and the NYS AFL-CIO have been preparing for the Janus decision for over a year, and the 2018 state budget included some amendments to the Taylor Law, which modified the union’s obligation to nonmembers under the duty of fair representation provision. Also, this summer NYSUT members have been knocking on nonmembers’ doors to explain the importance of sticking with the union and becoming a member. NYSUT’s Board of Directors, of which I am member, passed the following “Membership Matters” resolution at our April 16, 2018, meeting:

Whereas, with a united membership, NYSUT has the power to exercise and protect our rights, to defend the things we value and to give our members a voice in the workplace and in the halls of power; and

Whereas, in addition to fighting for strong union contracts which guarantee higher wages, quality healthcare and a secure retirement for our members, we use our collective strength to provide members with expert representation and legal defense, an extensive portfolio of member benefit products and services, and high quality professional development and training through our Education and Learning Trust; and

Whereas, members across New York are recommitting to a strong union in solidarity with their coworkers and with the understanding that withdrawing membership will result in weakening local, state and national unions by jeopardizing their ability to collectively bargain and represent their members; therefore be it,

Resolved, that only dues-paying members will be eligible for the benefits of union membership above and beyond those defined in the collective bargaining agreement. The benefits of membership will include:

    • Legal defense and representation services above and beyond that which is defined in the local union’s collective bargaining agreement provided by NYSUT Legal and Field Services such as for §3020-a, §75, pt. 83, etc., and
    • Rights to purchase endorsed member benefit products and services above and beyond the local union’s collective bargaining agreement provided by NYSUT Member Benefits Trust, NYSUT Member Benefits Corporation, and
    • NYSUT Member Benefits Catastrophe Major Medical Insurance Trust, and
    • The right to represent coworkers through elected office in the union, and
    • The right to vote in union elections including officer elections and contract ratification votes, and
    • Access to discounted ELT pro-fessional development and training, and
    • The right to attend local union meetings or activities;

and be it further

Resolved, that the NYSUT Board of Directors will periodically review and update the benefits of NYSUT membership in order to effectively incentivize new and former members to join our union; and be it further

Resolved, that the NYSUT officers and Board of Directors will continue to practice good stewardship of member dues in order to provide the highest quality services to our members.

In the FA, we have one year left on our collective bargaining agreement (CBA), and negotiations are never easy. The best negotiations come from strength, and we will show our strength by having a strong union membership.

We continue working on member engagement and currently 100 percent of our full-time and nearly 90 percent of our adjuncts are members! We continue reaching out to nonmembers to discuss the importance of membership.

In accordance with the FA Constitution and Bylaws, our negotiating team will be approved by our EC this semester. FA officers will be meeting on all three campuses to solicit member feedback. Here's the schedule, and you may attend a meeting on any campus convenient for you.

September (Ammerman)

  • Tuesday, 9/18, 3:30 pm Eaton’s Neck (Babylon)
  • Tuesday, 9/18, 5 pm Eaton’s Neck (Babylon)
  • Wednesday, 9/26, 11 am Smithtown Science 122 

October (Grant)

  • Tuesday, 10/2, 5 pm HSEC 105
  • Tuesday, 10/9, 2 pm HSEC A113
  • Wednesday, 10/17, 11 am HSEC A212 

November (Eastern)

  • Wednesday, 11/7, 11 am MLRC 107/108
  • Tuesday, 11/13, 3:30 pm MLRC 107/108
  • Tuesday, 11/13, 5 pm MLRC 107/108

December (Ammerman)

  • Friday, 12/14, 11 am Eaton’s Neck (Babylon)

Nonmembers cannot participate in any meetings, events or decisions regarding the union. And when we have a new CBA, only members will vote on its ratification.

We face many challenges this year and we must stay UNION STRONG.