The Janus decision and United Academics

Earlier this morning, the Supreme Court ruled on the Janus v. AFSCME case, deciding that public employee unions cannot collect “fair share” fees from people who have not joined the union as full members.

These fees have, historically, been considered both constitutional and necessary to avoid the problem of “free-riding” by people who receive the benefits of the collective bargaining agreement, but do not voluntarily contribute to the costs of bargaining and maintaining the contract.

As of today, public employees who have not signed union cards will still be represented by their union, but will not contribute to keeping their union stable and strong.

The Janus decision is the culmination of a years-long campaign by right-wing interests to attack public employee unions. One common take in the media over the next few days will certainly be that the decision is the death knell of public employee unions.  While the decision will certainly harm our ability to use our collective voice to influence local and national political policies – which is the point of the attack – our local union is still strong.

The Janus decision does not change your status as a member of United Academics. You are still a member of your union. You do not need to do anything to remain a member of UA. Our collective bargaining agreement remains in force. This decision does not impact your rights through the CBA. And our union is still our voice on campus. The Supreme Court’s decision does not impact or change our relationship with the administration.

The majority of faculty are members of United Academics, and that does not change with today’s ruling. More than 67% of all eligible faculty have joined UA as full members.
•           75% of tenure-track and tenured faculty are full members of UA
•           76% of career instructors are full members of UA
•           65% of career researchers are full members of UA

The strength of our union derives from the full and active participation of the faculty. It has made us effective in the bargaining room, resulting in a contract that is a model for research faculty unions across the country. We plan to carry our strength and the history of success to the bargaining table in 2019.

Because the Janus decision a key goal of a right-wing campaign of attack on public employee unions, we expect those attacks to heighten in the aftermath of the decision. This summer, you may be contacted by a group calling themselves the Freedom Foundation or Concerned Citizens for Responsible Unions or some other obfuscating name. These well-funded groups contact union members and try to talk them out of union membership. They have a variety of techniques and stories that paint “unions” as distant organizations that harm workplace relations. If you are contacted by one of these organizations, we ask you to do two things. One, remember that you are a member of United Academics and recall what you and your colleagues, united in UA, have achieved for the faculty and our campus. Two, contact the union office – call 541-636-4714 or reply to this email and let Dave Cecil know.

The leadership of United Academics will be working with our fellow unionists on campus, in Oregon, and across the country to coordinate our pushback against these attacks. When Michigan became a right-to-work state in 2013, union membership actually increased; we can do the same here in Oregon. You can help by remaining involved with United Academics, or becoming active if you have not already. Committing to becoming a steward, joining a working committee, and/or coming to union meetings are all small steps you can take to fight back against those who would make our country and our campus worse.

For more information on how to get involved, check out the webpage or contact the office 541-636-4714.