Voice or No Voice? That’s the Choice

Petition to Stop “Fair Share” Fees Designed to Cripple Union
(posted first 12-3-2010)

A petition to stop requiring payment of dues or representation fees for Columbia staff is now being circulated by proponents of an “open shop”. Those spreading the petition (called a de-authorization petition) claim that it is simply a matter of allowing employees the choice about paying dues, and that the vote will NOT impact the union.  This is not true. De-authorization is a tactic promoted by national anti-union groups such as the Right to Work Committee that aim to weaken, and eventually eliminate, the power of the Union.

Without a strong membership, the union will not be able to bargain good contracts, and have a real voice on the job. According to USA Today, it is no coincidence that “states with open-shop laws [‘Right- to-Work’ states] tend to have fewer people represented by unions.”  Why?

De-authorization is designed to cripple the union by allowing employees who receive the benefits and rights under the union contract to avoid paying their fair share of the cost of representation. Union members then become resentful that they’re paying for something that others get for free, and subsequently, support for the union is further eroded.

The effort to de-authorize the union originated among those who believe that staff is better off “negotiating” on their own. While a few Columbia staff may prosper this way, most Columbia staff members are nowhere near the top of the pay scale, and do not have the leverage to walk in to their supervisor and demand a raise. In fact, much of the staff at Columbia is currently feeling pressure from being given added job responsibilities with no added reward or compensation—let alone the promise of a future pay upgrade.

In today’s tough economic times, unions are critical force in resisting employers’ attempts to pass on the entire financial burden onto its employees. This is the reason that the Union began in 2004. When the College took away a very good pension plan, employees realized that they needed a union to prevent other benefits from being cut or reduced. A union contract provides guaranteed pay increases, caps to prevent escalating costs for healthcare, protection of other benefits, representation on the job, and the right to have an equal voice at the table.

Let’s not lose that because if we do, management will be free to do whatever it wants.

3 responses to “Voice or No Voice? That’s the Choice

  1. I am proud to be a member of US of CC because I know that a unified, organized staff can act not only in our own interests but in that of the college as a whole, including all staff, whether in the bargaining unit or not; as well as faculty and students. A strong, active staff union contributes in an essential way to the unique, diverse character of the college, and to its democratic spirit and creative energy.

  2. Staff for an Open Shop is independent, not associated with NRTW. We do contact them for guidance, but otherwise, we are self-formed and governed. We had frank discussion among ourselves and our true goal is to create choice. We respect (though do not enjoy) the efforts of US of CC. We want to be able to choose where our money goes. We stated among our small core group that we do not want to interfere with those who wish to unionize and reap the benefits of collective bargaining.


    • Many want the freedom to not pay for things they feel they, themselves don’t need. Some without children do not want to pay for public schools, peace lovers do not want to pay for wars, and if a house is not on fire, why should its owner pay for a fire department?
      We respect your different ideology, but we believe in shared responsibility for the common good.

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