Friday, March 23, 2018

President of SEIU Local Union: “Whoops!”

Maine Gov. Paul LePage

Here’s the latest chapter in a story Tasty covered in an earlier post.

Remember when an SEIU union in Maine voluntarily agreed to eliminate “agency fees” requirements from its labor contract during negotiations with right-wing Gov. Paul LePage?

This provision required state employees who chose not to join the union to instead pay a fee to help cover the costs of the union’s collective bargaining and representation services that benefit them. These cost-sharing fees are called “agency fees.”

What did SEIU Local 1989 (aka Maine State Employees Union) get in exchange for giving up the “agency fees” requirement?

Two annual pay increases of only 3% per year for its members (roughly 9,000 state workers).

What’s happened since then?

Four months after inking this horrible deal, the president of SEIU Local 1989 told the Portland Press Herald that “it is losing 'hundreds of thousands of dollars' under the new provision.” (Betty Adams, “Public-sector union sheds jobs after contract drops mandatory dues,” Portland Press Herald, January 9, 2018.)

Here’s an excerpt from the article:
Ramona Welton, president of the MSEA, Local 1989 of the Service Employees International Union, as well as a unit member, did not have the exact amount of the drop in income but estimated it was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“It’s a big number,” she said Tuesday, adding that the loss directly affects the local unit itself and indirectly affects its affiliate organizations.

How much financial support does the union stand to lose?

In 2016, more than a quarter of Local 1989’s possible members opted to be agency fee-payers, according to figures from the US Department of Labor.

Due to Local 1989's bad deal, these 2,500 workers and others can now stop making any financial contributions whatsoever to the union... even though the union and all of its stewards are still required to represent them and bargain for them.

This is the scheme that right-wing governors and Republican-appointed judges are trying to impose on workers across the nation. Their goal is to weaken unions so they can drive down workers’ wages, benefits, and working conditions... and boost corporate profits.

Who would have thought that an SEIU union would help them with their plan?