Monday, June 30, 2014

How Will UFT Be Affected if Supreme Court Rules Negative on Dues?

Will disaffected UFTers quit the union? Will people think they are not getting their dues money's worth?
I know this decision might come down any minute but I wanted to speculate a bit before it does on how the UFT might be affected.

First, the essence of the case: You don't want to pay union dues (agency shop fees) if you don't support the union. So the court may rule you don't, what will that mean? Right now there are about 3500 people who are not in the union but pay agency fee dues. They are protected by the contract but not allowed to vote in union elections or on the contract. (All new teachers start their careers as agency fee payers until they are signed up by their new chapter leaders. Some are not doing it for political reasons but just aren't aware -- ie, CL not doing the job.)

The union argument is that your salary and benefits were negotiated for you by the union so you should pay. (See Naked Capitalism: Harris v. Quinn: Will the Supreme Court Abolish Public Sector Unions on Monday?)

I wonder how these people who don't want the union would feel if the union argued to cut them loose from negotiations and benefits and all the contractual issues? In other words -- if you want to be a free agent, go ahead and negotiate your own contract with your principal --- sounds just like charter schools, doesn't it?

This is usually a right wing attack. But I've also heard this coming from a portion of the anti-Unity crowd who are so frustrated at the way the union has operated - given the way they have set up union elections and other controls, right now 100% of the UFT Exec Bd is Unity endorsed - and has been since the 2004 election when we clawed out 6 out of 90 seats -- and felt that was a victory - which really is a joke given that gives you zero chance to influence policy.

Some have even called for starting a decertification drive where a vote would allow people to choose a new bargaining agent - like the Teamsters.

Others have called for the end of dues checkoff where instead of dues coming out of your paycheck automatically, the union would have to send Vinnie over to collect.

The argument they make is that there is no way to pressure the Unity leadership and no way to win changes other than to apply economic pressure -- let the Unity/Union leadership feel the same pain the rank and file are feeling. (How about if a District Rep can be rated ineffective and removed? Think that might result in better service?)

Internally, we have discussed these threats in MORE and worry about the ultimate destruction of the union even if in the chaos there would be an opportunity for an organized opposition to make some hay. But I don't see any glee in the eyes of MOREistas who say  better MulGarten that the alternative.

The left wing of the union opposition have consistently turned away these  arguments as union busting. But when asked how they can change the UFT, they have precious few weapons in their arsenal.

Some of this debate is being played out at NYC Educator blog where my pal Harry (Hamilcar) is expressing his frustration at both the UFT and the opposition (MORE). See: The Good, the Bad and the Really Ugly. at NYC Educator. I left a comment in response.

Sinc losing this case is considered a union buster and we may know in a very short time, consider the view from the anti-Unity right of the left. I bet we will see a number of anti-Unity people or people who are treated shabily by the union take their money and run. Add the charter school erosion of union members and the deficit budgets, the Unity leadership may be facing some lean years ahead.

That doesn't stop them from spending 2-4 million on taking 800-1000 people to LA in 10 days for the AFT convention at our dues expense. I am going and paying my way because I do care about union policy and I want to be able to report back to Ed Notes readers -- all 3 of them -- what is going down there.

I wonder if there are times when I see the same 800 people I see at the Delegate Assembly walking around with an all expense paid trip and knowing that in a rational system, I and other MOREistas based on our % of the vote would have certainly been entitled to at least 150 of those delegate positions, and if the unions lose this case, the little evil devil on my shoulder will pop up and say, "good for them" before I take a hammer and smash that devil down.

NYC Educator has some interesting pieces on this issue:

When's the Best Time to Activate UFT Activists?

If Union Is a Choice, Why Not Government?


NYC Educator said...

Thanks for the kind mention. I'd just like to point out that co-blogger Arwen wrote The Good, the Bad, and the Really Ugly. You can see that where it says "posted by" at the bottom of the post.

Harmiclir said...

Norm....I'm glad you understand that I am not directing any comments or frustration at my MOREista friends or at MORE...I have always been a man who "spoke my own mind" but I try to do that with respect and, I hope, a little humility, because though I'm an opinionated sumbitch I sure am aware that I don't know the answers to any of this stuff.


Anonymous said...

You may have more readers than you imagine. I'm an upstate parent, and I see the travails of the NYC teachers as a premonition of what's to come for our teachers up here. No Pearson program (software or paper) will ever be able to do what a real teacher does but big money is at work. Thanks for your persistence. I wish I knew how better to help.
--upstate parent

Anonymous said...

I guess I wonder what will it take for Unity to open its ears to some of the Union's strongest, brightest and most committed supporters. As it stands now, membership ' s voice is blocked by rejecting the 150 or so delegate positions you mention as well as by not listening to any of its own membership who fail to rubber stamp what have seemed to be some misguided policies. If nothing will make Unity bend to sharing power with those who are more independently minded and represent large constituencies, then, given the climate, and the forces amassed against it, it seems to be sowing the seeds of its own destruction. Do you think Unity can ever be made to see the value of a more inclusive outlook? By the way, as you know, plenty more than three people read your blog!

ed notes online said...

No. Unity can never be made to see the value of a more inclusive outlook. They must have total control - 100% - remember - they went crazy when ICE/TJC won a measly 6 seats on the Ex Bd. Only if the day comes where people start pulling their dues -- ie if a follow-up decision truly takes away things like dues checkoff or allows agency shop people not to pay will they begin to do what minimal stuff they can to give them some cover -- but I wouldn't trust them under any circumstances. I take the position - and I believe a minority position in the opposition -- that they are flat out the enemy and nothing will change until they are smashed -- I do not include a portion of the rational rank and file Unity who I believe will one day jump ship.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about '"free agency"..... but "decertification" has a nice ring to it:

>>>Some have even called for starting a decertification drive where a vote would allow people to choose a new bargaining agent - like the Teamsters.>>>>

How would that work, exactly? Are there any valid historical parallels? In other words: whop e;se has done it? How did it work out?