I write to you today with disheartening news. Earlier this morning, the Supreme Court ruled on the Janus v. AFSCME case, deciding that public employee unions like the GTFF can no longer 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 for workers to organize themselves into unions. 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. In effect, non-members can “free ride” on the benefits bargained for by GEs past and present without contributing to the support and maintenance of those benefits.
This decision is the culmination of a years-long campaign by right-wing interests to attack public employee unions. By slashing union revenue, these groups hope to enervate the labor movement and reduce the power of workers to change laws, improve the livelihoods of employees, and fight for justice. While the decision will certainly hamper our ability to use our collective voice to influence local and national politics, our union is still strong. We’ve spent the past year preparing for this decision through intensive organizing drives and member education. Over 80% of GEs on this campus have chosen to join their union and hundreds have publicly committed to sticking with the GTFF, regardless of what the Supreme Court says!
The Janus decision does not change your status as a member of Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation. You are still a member of your union. You absolutely do not need to do anything to remain a member of GTFF. Our collective bargaining agreement is still our collective bargaining agreement. This decision does not impact your rights under 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.
Over 80% of GEs are members of GTFF, and that does not change with today’s ruling.
The strength of our union derives from the full and active participation of GEs. This strength is felt at the bargaining table, in the lives of members every time we use our health benefits, and in the defense of marginalized communities on campus and beyond. We plan to carry our strength and history of success forward to the bargaining table next fall and in many years to come!
This summer, you may be contacted by groups 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” in a negative light. If you are contacted by one of these organizations, we ask you to do two things. One, remember that you are a member of GTFF and our strength comes from our collective power as employees; and two, contact the union office at (541) 344-0832, or reply to this email and let Michael Magee know.
The leadership of GTFF will be working with our fellow unionists on campus, in Oregon, and across the country to coordinate our pushback against these right-wing attacks.
The first step of our response to these attacks is a solidarity photo with our sibling unions on campus - SEIU (classified staff) and UAUO (faculty) -tomorrow (6/28) at noon (12:00pm) on the steps of Johnson Hall. Wear your GTFF swag and come stand with our union colleagues to tell these anti-union groups, “We aren’t going anywhere!”
In the longer term, here’s what you can do to help:
Become an active participant in the GTFF
Wear your union t-shirt, button, or hat on campus
Follow GTFF on social media
Remind your friends and colleagues about the value of our union
Talk to non-members about the importance of joining the union as a full member
Volunteer some time by attending GTFF meetings, joining a committee or caucus, or serving as a steward
Most importantly, voice your concerns to your stewards and officers so we can make our campus better!
For more information on how to get involved, check out the GTFF webpage (gtff3544.net)