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  Public Employee Press

PEP Nov 2016
Table of Contents
  La Voz

Public Employee Press

Your union dues - lies and truth

Through the mire of the right-wing noise, one thing gets repeated: Union-busters say our workers are getting a raw deal because they get little in return from their dues.

Actually, the reverse is true: Union dues are a very sound investment.

A study by Frank Mano IV, of the Illinois Economic Policy Institute, and Robert Bruno, director of the Labor Education Program of the School of Labor and Employment Relations at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, found that for every dollar a unionized Illinois worker pays in dues, he or she receives $6.12 back in after-tax income.

That $6 return gives workers an awful lot. These financial return covers collective bargaining, workplace protections, political activities, union representation in disputes with management and job security. The dues coverage is in addition to the health-care benefit of workers.

A companion study by the Midwest Economic Policy Institute describes the impact of construction union dues in Minnesota. The report estimates for every $1 paid in dues and fees, union members receive $5.59. The annual cost of union dues and fees results in an increase of wages of $7,720 after taxes.

Here in New York, we give to earn a lot from being in a union. Contract negotiations ensure workers are not left on their own to bargain their wages. The union makes sure our worksites are safe. We are protected against arbitrary discipline and firings.

Unlike the corporate world, we give to ourselves and each other with our dues. Our dues prevent managers from trampling over our rights. The ripple effect of our wages helps make the economy run.

So as anti-union forces project their tall tales, we will speak the truth. The attack on dues is part of the ideological arsenal that the 1 percent wants to use to kill off unions. In reality, our dues are a smart investment in our livelihood.

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