Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Victory of Free Riders

To the surprise of nobody who pays attention, the Supreme Court today struck down -- by five votes to four ("Janus v. AFSCME") -- the unanimous Supreme Court precedent from 1977 ("Abood Vs. Detroit Board of Education"), where the court ruled public sector unions could collect fees from non-members for the costs of contract negotiations and other services rendered (things like protection from illegal firings, collection of back salaries, boring items like that).

Now, of course, "Abood" flies out the window and the dues-paying members of labor unions will pay for protections extended to non-payers.

(Full-disclosure here. I ran a private-sector union for a bunch of years, so obviously I have a pro-union position. But here's what I'm (semi)-okay with:)

If somebody working under a labor contract REALLY wants to opt out, then he or she should be allowed to opt out.

But they should be required to opt out ALL the way.

All the damn freaking way.

You're not paying dues? Fine, then you're NOT under the labor contract. The document doesn't apply to you. In any shape or manner.

You're completely free to work out your own payment arrangements with the government entity or company for which you work. If you've got the leverage to get more money, then congratulations. If you can get yourself a better health benefits package, and a fancier pension, bully for you.

The labor union (and its collective bargaining agreement) is out of the picture. It is NOT obligated to pay for any arbitrations on your behalf if you think you've been shafted, not required to provide a lawyer when there's a legal issue. And NOTHING that the union has negotiated in a collective bargaining agreement applies to you. Not the health package, not the retirement package. The wage minimums or wage schedules in their stupid contract? Not relevant because you've chosen another route.

Because, fair's fair, right? You've bailed from the program, and you're doing your own thing. (Hooray for freedom!)

So go do it completely. You start with a nice, clean sheet of paper with your employer. Pay for legal representation out of your own pocket. Do your own negotiating for salary and separate benefits. Don't call the union rep and ask her for help. She ain't your gal Friday.

If that was the reality and outcome of the Supremes' ruling today, I would have less objection to how the five men in black robes came down. But of course, that's not the way the ruling works. Because whether you're paying dues/fees or not, the union is still required to represent you under the collective bargaining agreement. Still required to spend time, money, and staff-time on whatever problem you bring to its attention.

And THAT'S what makes this ruling so sucky.

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