First, some history. The first Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) at Pratt was signed in 1973. From that time, until the most recent CBA (signed in 2008; expires August 2011), faculty members were permitted to join the Union and pay dues, or do nothing at all. Faculty members had to elect to join and have Union dues deducted from their paychecks. At the same time, even though only some faculty members joined the Union and paid dues, ALL faculty benefited from the protections and benefits enshrined in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. For example, whether or not a faculty member had joined the Union and paid dues, the Union would gladly and willingly represent that faculty member in the grievance process (we still will…the only difference is that the non-union member now pays an agency fee in recognition of that and other services of the union as his or her “agent”). More fundamentally, that faculty member’s rights were enshrined in the CBA, protected, defended, and kept vital by the vigilance of the Union. In short, a situation existed in which half (or fewer) faculty members were supporting a Union, in financial and other ways, that worked on behalf of ALL the faculty.
In the historic negotiation that took place in 2007, the UFCT 1460 obtained the right to ask for an “agency fee” from those faculty members who choose not to join the Union but who still benefit from the work of the Union and Union protection. The agency fee represents an acknowledgment that even if a faculty member chooses not to become a Union member, he or she continues to benefit from the presence and work of the Union. Because the agency fee and Union dues are initially equivalent (the agency fee payer can apply for a refund of monies used for political activity by the parent Union at the end of the school year), it makes logical sense to join the Union because of the additional rights and benefits that come with Union membership that do not come with electing to pay the agency fee.
The rights of a Union member differ from those of an agency fee payer. The Union member can actively participate in the Union, helping to determine its direction and future. The Union member can attend Union meetings, agitate for issues to be brought to the negotiating table, participate in Union elections either as a voter or as a candidate, and vote to approve or reject the CBA. The agency fee payer is excluded from these activities. Becoming a Union member gives the faculty member a VOICE.
In The Social Contract, Jean-Jacques Rousseau makes a distinction between the “subject” and the “citizen” that has some resonance here. He writes: “With regard to the associates [those people who come together to create a sovereign state], they take collectively the name of people, and are called individually citizens, inasmuch as they PARTICIPATE in the sovereign power, and subjects, inasmuch as they are SUBJECTED TO the laws of the State.”
Electing to become a Union member gives you the rights of the citizen; the agency fee gives one the rights of a subject. The choice is clear.
If you are a faculty member who has not yet indicated your choice, please contact the Union office immediately at (718) 636-3614, or stop by the office, 125 North Hall.
From the September 22, 2007 status report:
The dues authorization schedule for the UFCT, Local 1460, remains the lowest in the nation. For those part-timers making less than $10,000, one’s union dues remain @ 0.75% (of one’s pre-taxed gross income for the fall and spring semesters); for the vast majority of the part-time faculty who are making between $10,001 and $40,000, as well as for those younger full-time faculty on the lower end of the full-time salary spectrum, those full-timers with annual grosses less than $60,000, one’s dues will remain @ 1% (of one’s pre-taxed gross income for the fall and spring semesters). Lastly, for those faculty with grosses of $60,001 or more (at present the average full-time salary @ Pratt is: $62,000), one’s dues will remain at the all-time-low rate of: 0.75%!
Dues Deduction Examples (keep in mind that the UFCT Local 1460 is obligated to pay its parent affiliates: NYSUT (New York State United Teachers) at the state level, and AFT (American Federation of Teachers) at the national level, an annual per capita rate in the vicinity of $418.00 for each union member making $28,000 or more. As you can easily surmise, the UFCT retains very little money at the local level with a dues structure in the range of 1%):
(A) Full-Timer with an annual salary of $62,000:
Dues assessment @ 0.75% comes to: $465.00 a year. If on a 12 month pay schedule, this full-timer will have $38.75 deducted per check, if on a 10 month schedule, $46.50 per check.
(B) Adjunct making $14,000 per semester or $28,000 a year:
Dues assessment @ 1% comes to: $280.00 a year. As the part-time faculty is paid in 8 installments per semester, divide $280.00 by 16 (8 x 2 semesters) to arrive at a $17.50 deduction per pay check.
(C) Visitor making less $4,750 per semester or $9,500 a year:
Dues assessment @ 0.75% comes to: $71.25 a year. As the part-time faculty is paid in 8 installments per semester, divide $71.25 by 16 (8 x 2 semesters) to arrive at a $4.45 deduction per pay check.
As dues paying members of the UFCT we should each be committed to enrolling as many of our faculty colleagues as is possible. The UFCT is the exclusive [legal] bargaining representative for all of Pratt’s teaching staff employees. All full-time and regular [fall/spring] part-time faculty members, including our professional librarians, are bargaining unit members, represented by the UFCT. Should not each of us pay our fair share for this representation?
Roughly 78% of full-time, 82% of adjuncts/w CCE, 80% of adjuncts (without a CCE) and [only] 15-20% of visitors are UFCT members. This ‘visiting’ percentage is not surprising when you consider that 300+ (or over 60%) of 500+ visitors teach no more than three contact hours per semester [moreover, some 125 visitors leave each year as some 125 new visitors are hired each year…] Visitors are the least invested, the least connected, and feel (justifiably so) the most vulnerable of all bargaining unit members. [Can’t say I blame them having been a visitor myself for eleven years. This ‘majority’ faculty status has become deeply problematic for a number of reasons. As such, the UFCT is dedicated to rectifying this most ill-defined and amorphous faculty status. Maybe the time has come, for the so-called: ‘visiting category’, to be replaced by a part-time-faculty-track that has some semblance of order? See: JCVS in this report.]
As UFCT President, I have removed as many disincentives to joining the union as I am empowered to effectuate; namely in reducing our local’s dues deductions schedule and in suspending outright – for at least a semester, all union dues deductions. As this policy comes with it a price to our local’s treasury, it will not be sustainable indefinitely. Now I need each of you to spread the word through your respective departments. It will be through your own individual initiative and through those individual departmental area initiatives where union membership is less than 75% that will define us as a union with a bare majority, or a strong union with a significant majority! Remember, if two in three UFCT members enrolled just one new member each, our Union’s enrollment would easily reach 100%. Each of us can – and must – do our fair share!