Fair share – thanks Vermont Senate!

(Bumped.   – promoted by kestrel9000)

On Wednesday the Vermont senate passed the “fair share” bill 24-5, requiring non-union members to pay agency fees in return for the benefits they receive from union services such as contract negotiations and contract administration.  

VT Digger Article

(My apologies if someone else has reported this already on GMD, and I somehow missed it).

Currently, “grandfathered” employees are exempted from paying for these services while other non-union members pay a portion (85%) of the total union dues amount, in compensation for the services they receive.  

Essentially, Vermont has been acting like a “right to work” (for less) state with respect to these grandfathered employees, allowing them to benefit from the system without paying for it.  

As a state employee and VSEA member, I’m ok with other employees declining to join the union if that’s their choice.  But I don’t think it’s fair that the rest of us pay our fair share while others contribute nothing, while receiving the same benefits and services.

Thank you Vermont Senate, for recognizing this by passing the fair share bill.  Please follow their lead, Representatives, and correct this injustice.

13 thoughts on “Fair share – thanks Vermont Senate!

  1. I don’t know- so I’m asking- can anyone say whether or not this (seemingly small but ultimately very significant) victory is the result of the work of the controversial new organizing approach, or the efforts of VSEA lobbyists, or if this was more a foregone conclution or something pushed by other unions…

  2. who benefit from a union shop whatever the job should pay if they benefit from collective bargaining, or go work somewhere else. Difficult to believe this was ever the case.  

  3. So, these “grandfathered” employees… how does that work? If they join the union for some reason, say to get an advantage in a dispute with management, are they no longer grandfathered? Or can they drop out of the union once the dispute is over and go back to being grandfathered?

  4. In answer to niiru, the free riders receive representation right now. They don’t have to join the union. That’s the issue. Why do they get representation for paying nothing, while others pay a nominal fee to get representation and a host of other benefits? Ask a grandfathered member who has been jammed up if they appreciated the representation they received.

    Management loves baiting these grandfathered members to raise their ire, as it’s the perfect divide-and-conquer atmosphere to create.

    Representation at the workplace is just as important as representation at the State House or in DC.  

  5. But did not ask grandfathered coworkers in my state office if they were at least glad that the dues weren’t made retroactive for the duration of their state employment.

  6. NEA was pretty close to the front of the bus on this one.  VSEA had exempted existing non members when fair share first was passed.    High time they were asked to pay for the benefits they gain from the bargaining and lobbying of their contributing workmates.

  7. …how you could be grandfathered after making the conscious choice to join the union, whatever the motivation.  Once you alter the status quo, you can’t go back to status quo ante.

  8. “Representation at the workplace is just as important as representation at the State House or in DC.”

    I certainly believe that.

    Still, lemme ask a question.  I’ve heard in some conservative circles–even before Romney’s 47% BS–the inverted/perverted cry of, “no representation without taxation!”  Their “thinking” goes, if you don’t have skin in the game, why should you get to vote?  Chilling.

    So how is that different from requiring non-union members, even if represented collectively, to pay into that system?  What are dues for?  Collective bargaining, or the “host of other benefits”?

  9. To clarify, non-union members aren’t required to pay dues.  They’re required to pay a lower agency fee, which represents the portion of regular dues that goes to contract negotiations/bargaining, and contract administration and enforcement, and other such services that are available to employees whether or not they choose to be union members.

    Although dues and agency fees aren’t exactly analogous to taxes, you pose an interesting question.

    But perhaps a better analogy would be if someone said to the IRS:  I’ll give up my right to vote, if you’ll cut my tax payment by 15%.

    I think we would agree that it’s fair to expect taxes to be paid by those who can afford to pay them.  And for those who can’t afford to pay any taxes, I think we would agree that they should still have a vote (unlike those, I agree, very chilling conservatives of whom you speak).

    If you’re employed full time by the State of Vermont, you can afford to pay something towards the union that represents you, so you should be required to pay your fair share into the system.  

    VSEA does have a problem  (in my opinion) that our dues and agency fees are not on sliding scale, and therefore they are analogous to a regressive tax, not a progressive one.  That needs to change, and I plan to push the issue.  But grandfathered employees actually make more money (by virtue of their seniority) than employees hired for the same job type at a later date, who are required to pay agency fees or dues.  It’s hard for me to muster much sympathy for those grandfathered employees.

    Employees who don’t wish to join the union to save about $4 or $5 a month do lose the right to vote on contracts, etc., but not because they couldn’t afford to pay, like an unemployed or low-income person who would be disenfranchised by a poll tax or some such “pay to vote” requirement.   They choose not to “put skin in the game”, even though they are perfectly able, and instead opt to “freeload” on everyone else.  

  10. It’s hard to argue with people who cloak themselves in the mantle of “free association.”  So that reverse on the tax thing you provide is really compelling.  And it’s helpful to know that agency fees are lower, and that somebody will be pushing for a more progressive system.


  11. The Republican states are passing laws saying specifically that non-union employees get to freeload off of their union co-workers by receiving all the benefits of the union and not having to pay one dime into the union for those benefits.

    Here Vermont goes and does the exact opposite: confirm there is no representation without taxation.

  12. What we learned in the discussion on the Senate floor was that the grandfathering was a consequence of early negotiations between the unions and their employers.  It was never part of the law that was passed.  The grandfathering was part of two and three year contracts and it was continued with ensuing contracts.

    When the current contracts expire, there is no law or rule that stated to those employees that they would forever be grandfathered and exempted from paying their fair share for the benefits that they are receiving simply by being in the same workplace as the members who chose to be part of the union.

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