• Not really in fairness
    February 11,2013

    Not really in fairness

    The Vermont Senate is about to pass out a bill that would require public sector employees who decline to become dues paying members of the Union to pay the union what they refer to as “fair share” fees. The arguments in support of these fees are strong: the union negotiates benefits and enforces compliance with the contract on behalf of all employees whether they are members or not; therefore all employees should bear their proportionate cost of representation. As it stands now, the employees who join the union and pay dues have borne all the costs of representation, while others have simply enjoyed the benefits at no cost.

    The problem I see with the “Fair Share” bill, so-called, is that it does nothing to relieve dues-paying union members of some of the financial burden they currently carry, but merely provides public sector unions with a windfall of revenue from the paychecks of non-members.

    If fairness is really the issue (one never knows), I have a suggestion. The money being raised now from the dues of union members is clearly adequate to support Union activities, as evidenced by the effectiveness and political clout of VT-NEA and other public sector unions in Vermont. Legislation which requires non Union members to pay their “fair share” of the cost of representation should also mandate that the unions who receive these revenues concurrently reduce the dues being paid now by union members by the same amount of new revenue collected from non-members. Fairness requires that the union members who have been paying too much all these years (because non-members received services but did not contribute) receive a reduction in their union dues. Otherwise, this bill is really nothing more than a massive financial windfall for public sector unions which will further distort the balance of power between the unions and Vermont municipalities and school boards.

    As a matter of transparency, I negotiate collective bargaining agreements on behalf of numerous municipalities and school boards. Several of my clients have agency fee provisions in their contracts, several do not.

    Scott Cameron


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