Times have changed. Yesterday I was told that I had been allowed to vote on contracts because I had been an agency fee payer. In the post-Janus world, though, I don't pay a fee, so I don't get to vote on my contract. Here's the email exchange that took place. I'm tentatively removing identifying information:
Mr. Miller,It's unjust that they're allowed to negotiate my contract and I have no say in it at all. The unionistas will say, Just join the union if you want to vote! To which I reply, why should I have to? Unions get special privileges--for example, getting to negotiate my contract! In the Janus case the Supreme Court ruled that such privileges necessitate fair representation:
Thank you for your phone call inquiry yesterday regarding not being able to vote on the contract.
Our records indicate that you are currently a non-member of this association. As you may or may not be aware, Section IV (MEMBERSHIP) Sub-section 2(b) (RIGHTS, PRIVILEGES AND OBLIGATIONS) of the xxx by-laws states that only “active members” are able to vote. We would be happy to enroll you today and provide you the opportunity to vote on the contract.
If you would like to become a member, I would be happy to bring out a form so that you can sign-up to become a member. I can get the form to you anytime today, but if you would like to vote, it would need to be prior to 4pm. Once you have signed-up as a member, we will get you a temporary password so that you can vote on the contract. If you prefer, I can also bring you a paper ballot that you can place in a sealed envelope and I can provide that sealed envelope to the Elections Chair, xxx. He will include all paper votes into the final numbers.
Associate Executive Director, (local union)
Thank you for your reply.
This is clearly a change, as I have always been able to vote on contractual matters since the days of (long-since former union president), when I left (local union). Clearly I don’t vote on strictly union matters, e.g. union reps and officers, but this change on contract voting is disconcerting.
When did the Executive Board make the change?
I spoke with President xxx and the previous email expresses the view of the elected officers of (local union).
I would like to note that we have made no changes to the by-laws. However, the recent Supreme Court ruling has impacted bargaining unit members’ rights related to dues paying status.
As I mentioned in my earlier email, our by-laws contain guidelines on membership and voting. For your own edification the section reads:
2. RIGHTS, PRIVILEGES AND OBLIGATIONS (pg2):
a. Membership may be granted upon payment of annual (local union)/CTA/NEA dues through payroll deduction or cash appropriate to the class of membership and completion of a membership application.
b. The right to vote and to hold elective office or appointive position shall be limited to Active members.
Because of the loss of Agency Fee, some who had previously been granted voting rights as a result of their dues contribution, no longer qualify for those voting rights if they no longer pay dues.
As you may be aware, the Supreme Court ruled that membership can only be established through a voluntary process and cannot be compelled of any person not wishing to be a member.
I will reiterate my offer to come out to (your school) and bring you a membership form if you would like to sign-up. If we do that prior to 4pm, we will make sure that you have the opportunity to vote.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need clarification.
I’d be happy to join (local union).
I will not, however, be happy to join CTA and NEA. At all. They are the reason I canceled my membership. Please let me know when the unified dues structure is abolished so I can become a member of (local union) again.
Exclusive representation of all the employees in a unit and the exaction of agency fees are not inextricably linked...How can they represent me if they don't allow me to vote?
[A]voiding “the risk of ‘free riders,’ ” Abood, supra, at 224, is not a compelling state interest. Free-rider “arguments . . . are generally insufficient to overcome First Amendment objections,” Knox, su-pra, at 311, and the statutory requirement that unions represent members and nonmembers alike does not justify different treatment.As is evident in non-agency-fee jurisdictions, unions are quite willing to represent nonmembers in the absence of agency fees. And their duty of fair representation is a necessary concomitant of the authority that a union seeks when it chooses to be the exclusive representative. (Boldface mine--Darren)
The above quote is from the syllabus, the following comes from the opinion of the Court:
First, it is simply not true that unions will refuse to serve as the exclusive representative of all employees in the unit if they are not given agency fees. As noted, unions represent millions of public employees in jurisdictions that do not permit agency fees. No union is ever compelled to seek that designation. On the contrary, designation as exclusive representative is avidly sought.5 Why is this so?My local union wants the authority and power that comes with being the sole representative, but doesn't want to provide the representation. They've taken a sharp turn for the worse.
Even without agency fees, designation as the exclusive representative confers many benefits. As noted, that status gives the union a privileged place in negotiations over wages, benefits, and working conditions. See §315/6(c). Not only is the union given the exclusive right to speak for all the employees in collective bargaining, but the employer is required by state law to listen to and to bargain in good faith with only that union. §315/7. Designation as exclusive representative thus “results in a tremendous increase in the power” of the union. American Communications Assn. v. Douds, 339 U. S. 382, 401 (1950).
In addition, a union designated as exclusive representative is often granted special privileges, such as obtaining information about employees, see §315/6(c), and having dues and fees deducted directly from employee wages, §§315/6(e)–(f). The collective-bargaining agreement in this case guarantees a long list of additional privileges. See App. 138–143.
These benefits greatly outweigh any extra burden imposed by the duty of providing fair representation for nonmembers. What this duty entails, in simple terms, is an obligation not to “act solely in the interests of [the union’s] own members.”
Update, 11/24/19: I've written about union privileges and responsibilities before.