On Wednesday, the Supreme Court released its decision in Janus v. AFSCME. The decision, which was not unexpected, stated that public sector unions could not require non-union members in the bargaining unit to pay a fair share fee. This decision overturned decades of precedent and practice in American labor law.
The ruling is unjust. It allows non-members to reap all of the benefits of union membership without contributing anything. Fortunately, the Chapter is well-prepared. Austerity measures have already been introduced. Unfortunately, this included the very difficult decision of reducing the Chapter’s staff. The Chapter also passed a %0.25 dues increase, contingent on an adverse Janus decision, to mitigate some of its effects. This will be implemented on September 1st, 2018.
Unfortunately, Janus is not the end. Its intent is to weaken public sector unions for more direct attacks on our very existence. These will come from the state legislature and from Congress to roll back protections for public employees and lessen our role as civic partners here at the University. We will be prepared. As we did with SB 5, we will work with teachers, firefighters, police officers, with organized labor, and with students and parents, to defeat these challenges.
Janus is also an opportunity. The recent teachers’ strikes in West Virginia, Arizona, and other states have been inspiring. These are states with oppressive labor laws. These teachers have little or no right to collectively bargain. Yet they organized anyway. And they won.
We need to return to our roots. When a small group of faculty organized at the University of Cincinnati in the 1970s, they did not organize for fair share fees. They organized to collectively bargain for salaries, paid health insurance, shared governance and clear grievance procedures. They organized to improve student learning conditions and to strengthen our voice here at the University. Our mission is unchanged. We will continue to advocate for the faculty, for our students, and for higher education on this campus, in this state, and throughout the country.
Yours in solidarity.