Unions rally in wake of recent Supreme Court decision

A new decision affects who does and doesn't have to pay union fees, and unions are not happy.

Posted: Jun 28, 2018 5:32 PM
Updated: Jun 28, 2018 5:33 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Three University of Oregon unions rallied at Johnson Hall in protest of the recent Supreme Court decision regarding who has to pay union fees.

The decision overturned a ruling from 1977 known as Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. This ruling said that any employee in a position that required a union to represent them must pay a fee to that union. This is called a “fair share” fee.

The Supreme Court decided this was unconstitutional because it violated the first amendment. This is because union money can sometimes be used for political activity, and an employee may not agree with that agenda.

Union representatives with United Academics of the University of Oregon, Service Employees International Union, and the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation said this is going to greatly hinder how well the unions can perform. Without those fees, they’re expecting to lose one-third of their revenue.

"It's going to have serious financial effects on us. We're predicting about a third of our revenue is going to disappear, and that means a lot of changes in how we operate,” said David Woken, a UAUO Executive Council Member.

Union representatives expressed that they were frustrated because the unions will still be required to represent these employees. They’ll still be represented in a grievance, and they’ll still benefit from the collective bargaining agreement. They’ll just do so without having to pay for it.

Union representatives said, nonetheless, having these services is essential for employees. That’s why they decided to come together and make it known that they’re staying strong and continuing to represent their members.

"Unions are really important because they give working people a voice that they wouldn't otherwise have in politics,” said Michael Magee, the president of the GTFF. “So many of our politic decisions are made by the wealthy, are made by those who have power, and working folks just don't have that kind of leverage."

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