GTFF IS UNDER ATTACK
We’re not exaggerating.
Corporate lawyers and billionaires are coming after public-sector unions, including the GTFF. They are using the U.S. Supreme Court, in a case called Janus vs AFSCME (Amer. Fed. of State, County and Municipal Employees), to push through national “right-to-work” laws designed to dramatically weaken unions – like ours – and undermine the wages, benefits, and workplace protections of public sector workers – like us.
Janus vs AFSCME is a case brought by corporate and anti-union organizations, such as the Koch brothers’ Freedom Foundation, with the goal of eliminating the right of unions to collect “fair share” dues. If the Court rules in favor of Janus, which they are likely to do, the entire country will become “right-to-work”. When that happens, GTFF (like other public-sector unions) will experience an immediate blow to our income and our ability to effectively represent GEs at UO. And that’s exactly the goal.
How will this ruling affect the GTFF?
A decision on the case is expected this Spring (March or April 2018). A ruling in favor of Janus — which is expected – will result in an immediate 25% reduction in GTFF’s income!
Why is that? Because GTFF is funded ENTIRELY through GE dues and one-quarter of those are “fair share” dues. Membership in GTFF currently stands at 74%, meaning that three-quarters of GEs have joined our union as full members and contribute 2.1% of their salaries in dues. The remaining 26% of GEs have not joined and instead pay “fair share” dues set at 1.79% of their salaries. Under Janus, GTFF will no longer be able to collect fair share dues from non-members. GTFF will remain legally bound to represent and bargain on behalf of all GEs, and GEs will still have the option to not join the union, but non-members will contribute nothing to the costs of that representation. Instead, the full financial burden will fall on those choose to join while others get a “free ride”.
What do we stand to lose under right-to-work?
A lot. A 25% reduction in income will force us to make some very difficult budgetary and organizational decisions. We will have far fewer dollars for contract enforcement, bargaining, meetings, office rent and utilities, salaries for our invaluable staff, leadership training, caucus activities, social events, community donations, photocopies, etc.
Over its 40-year history, GTFF has dramatically improved pay, benefits, working conditions and rights for GEs at UO. In just the last 10 years, GTFF has negotiated salary increases of 38%, including a 3.5% increase this year and another 3.7% increase for next year. We have one of the best health insurance plans of any grad union in the country. We’ve won 100% tuition waivers and major reductions in fees. We have a binding grievance procedure for enforcing GE rights and stopping unfair treatment. We’ve won gender-neutral bathrooms, childcare assistance, and the Graduate Assistance Fund, which helps grads facing a financial crisis from medical expenses. And so much more…
None of these things were gifts from an enlightened administration. For 40 years, GEs – just like us – have stood together and pooled our resources to build a powerful union able to win real gains for GEs at UO. We can continue to be thrive, protect our past victories, and continue to win better conditions – even under “right-to-work”.
So, what’s the plan?
➢ We need every GTFF member to commit to staying a member even after right-to-work becomes law.
➢We must increase our membership before RTW hits. Our goal is 80% by the end of Spring term.
➢ All GTFF members need to talk to non-members about the importance of joining as full members.
➢We want all members to put a “Proud GTFF Member” sign on/near their office or lab door.
Next year (2018-19) is a contract negotiation year!
It’s going to be tough. We need to be organized, fired up, and ready to fight like our futures depend on it.