Earlier today, the Supreme Court ruled by the narrowest margin in Janus v. AFSCME that unions of public employees can no longer collect “fair share” fees from individuals who are not members.
“Fair share” fees have until today been constitutional and collecting “fair share” fees is consistent with the common-sense notion that everyone who reaps the benefits of a collective enterprise should share in the costs of sustaining that endeavor.
To common-sense fairness it is unthinkable to benefit, and to have representation, without making one’s contribution. But we are living through times in our country where common-sense notions of fairness and decency seem to be under attack on every front.
Today’s Supreme Court decision is a sign of the times. It is the culmination many years of concerted action by special interests intent on dismantling worker rights and dismantling our public institutions. As civil rights have gone (decisions gutting of the Civil Rights Act), so have gone political rights (floodgates opened to unchecked political contributions), civil liberties, the human rights of immigrant families, and now the rights of U.S workers.
It is likely you will become a target of misinformation from the same groups that have been leading this attack on workers for years. It is essential that we fine-tune our “truth” radars, so here are the bare facts:
Today’s Supreme Court 5-4 decision (Janus v. AFSCME) does not change your status as a member of PSU-AAUP. You are still a member of your union. You do not need to do anything to remain a member of PSU-AAUP.
Our collective bargaining agreement (i.e., “the contract” with PSU) remains in place and is legally binding. This decision does not impact your rights through the CBA.
Salary increases, salary floors, promotion increases, cost of living adjustments, benefits, the sick leave bank, the protection of T&P guidelines, grievance protections against arbitrary evaluations, consultations and support for aggrieved members, protection of academic freedom, advocacy for educationally-defensible budget priorities at the university—and everything else we have gained over our 40 years of existence—remains in place.
Your PSU-AAUP union is still our voice on campus.
As of today, faculty and academic professionals who have not signed union cards to become members will still be represented by our union, even if they decide not to voluntarily join the rest of us and contribute to keeping their union stable and strong.
This attack on unions is working off a premise that by appealing to greed — institutionalizing the idea of getting something for nothing — our unions will be weakened.
But we stand on principles that are stronger than greed.
And we have been preparing for the possibility of this Court decision for some years. Today the vast majority of full-time tenure-track, non-tenure track, research faculty and academic professionals at Portland State are members of PSU-AAUP. About 88% of all of us are PSU-AAUP members.
We are strong, and this strength has given us the ability to make PSU an excellent university, and our collective bargaining agreement is a model to follow for colleagues around the country. We make PSU stronger, and when we go into bargaining in Spring 2019, we will continue building on this 40-year legacy!
This summer, you may be contacted by groups calling themselves the Freedom Foundation or Concerned Citizens for Responsible Unions or some other obfuscating name. These well-funded groups contact union members and try to talk them out of union membership. They have a variety of techniques and stories that paint “unions” as distant organizations that harm workplace relations. If you are contacted by one of these organizations, we ask you to do two things. One, remember that you are a member of PSU-AAUP and recall what you and your colleagues, united in PSU-AAUP, have achieved for the faculty and our campus. Two, contact our union office at (503) 725-4414, and let Sabrina Balderama or Phil Lesch know, or reply to this email, and let me know.
Colleagues, the volunteer member-leaders and colleagues whom you’ve elected to our Executive Council, and our small but fine staff, will be working with colleagues and unions across Oregon — academics and non-academics — and across the country, to coordinate our defense of our rights and of “Quality, Student-Centered, Educator-Led, Fair, and Debt Free Higher Education.”
Warm regards and solidarity,