Broadside – November 21, 2017
Our union contract guarantees tenure, academic freedom, salary schedules and steps, and protects against arbitrary discipline and firing. These protections are not provided by federal, state, or local laws. If we lose our contract we will lose most, or if not all, of these protections.
That’s okay for right now. We do have a contract. We do have a union. Are we in danger of losing those things? Read on, please.
Facts About the Supreme Court Janus Case – How the Decision May Impact You and Your Union:
It is likely that the Supreme Court next year will render a decision in the Janus vs AFSCME case that will make the entire nation ”right to work.” This will mean that charging “agency fees” will become illegal.
Agency fees are charged to employees in the bargaining unit who choose not to join the union, to cover the union’s cost of bargaining and representation. By law, non-union-members are still represented by the union in disciplinary cases and they benefit from the contract negotiating activities of the union – salaries, benefits, and other protections. These fees are at least 90 percent of union dues, and in some cases they are equal. But under a decision in favor of Janus, non-members would pay nothing.
At present, New York is a “fair share” state where members of the bargaining unit who choose not to join the union pay agency fees, to prevent what is called “free riders” – people who benefit from the union’s bargaining activities, contractual protections, and disciplinary representation but do not support their union financially and are not union members.
If the Supreme Court finds in favor of the plaintiff Janus, then the number of non-paying, non-member free riders in our union could increase dramatically. If that happens, FFECC’s finances would be severely distressed. Perhaps more dire than that, if union membership falls below 50% of the bargaining unit, the employer can request that the union be decertified – in other words, the union and its contract would cease to exist.
If this happens, the following are likely outcomes:
You would probably no longer have tenure. Then you would become an “at-will” employee, which means you could be fired with no due process and for no stated reason.
There would be no requirement to lay off employees (or re-hire laid off employees) on the basis of seniority. Thus, more senior and more expensive employees would become likely targets.
You would likely lose employer subsidized health insurance, both while active and certainly in retirement.
You would almost certainly lose automatic salary steps.
You would lose academic freedom. The institution could dictate to you the content of your courses and the materials you are allowed to use, and even the opinions you are allowed to express about your subject area.
You would have no right to grieve the college for contract violations, since there would be no contract.
If the court finds in favor of Janus, then it will become crucial that you, the members of the FFECC, support your union. If the court does not find in favor of Janus, there are many other legal challenges to public sector unions waiting in the wings to be heard.
For more information visit www.ffecc.org
Or read an Update on the case from NYSUT:
Who Can I Contact for Questions?
FFECC Leadership Team:
Andrew Sako, President firstname.lastname@example.org 851-1026
Patricia Kaiser, VP City email@example.com 270-5639
Adrian R. Ranic, VP North firstname.lastname@example.org 270-5828
Jason Steinitz, VP South email@example.com 851-1305
Michael Delaney, Grievance Chair firstname.lastname@example.org 270-5332