Dues Changes Begin In
As noted in previous newsletters, in order make union dues
more fair and to relieve the monthly burden for lower-wage workers, delegates
at the biennial Oregon AFSCME Convention in Bend April 13-15, 2007 overwhelmingly adopted
a new methodology for collecting Council 75 minimum dues.
The proposal goes into effect Jan. 1, 2008. Referred to as
either “progressive dues” or “percentage dues,” the method is simple: union
members will pay a set percentage of their annual salary in dues, rather than a
flat amount for Council 75’s minimum dues.
How will that impact
It depends on your income.
First, the Council 75 minimum dues are
calculated only on base salary. Shift differential, overtime and
such will not increase your dues. Second, there is both a Council 75 minimum
“floor” and a maximum “cap.” The lowest-paid members will pay $15 in dues. The
high-end cap is $55 in 2008, $60 in 2009 and $65 in 2010. After that, any
future increase would be tied to regional inflation rates.
Local 328 currently collects $3.48
per member per month over the council minimum. Under the new structure Local 328
will continue to collect $3.48 per member per month over the Council minimum.
Many local unions, such as Local
328, collect the Council 75 minimum dues plus a flat dollar rate extra. The
flat dollar amount over the Council minimum funds most of the Local’s general
fund and contract defense fund. The remainder is funded by a portion of the Council
75 minimum dues. Local 328 will continue to collect the flat dollar amount in
addition to the progressive Council 75 minimum dues,
Local 328 Adjustment For Bi-weekly Pay Periods
Since the Council 75 constitution
requires a minimum dues of 1.27% of all base salary and Local 328 pays biweekly
there is an obvious problem for those months that have three pay periods.
Currently half the dues are taken in the first pay period, half the second and
no dues are collected during the third.
If we continued to collect dues the
third pay period under the new system that would result in some employees
paying more than the monthly maximum. We don’t want that to happen. So what we’ve
done is redistribute the 1.27% over 26 pay periods to 1.38% over 24 pay
periods. That way no one will go over the monthly maximum, Council 75 will
collect its full amount of dues over the course of a year, and we will not have
to collect any dues in the third pay period of any month which has three pay
Why The Change?
Unions have traditionally lobbied
for progressive tax structures from governments; it’s logical to use the same
structure for dues collection. Other proponents noted that lower dues for lower
wage workers will be a good incentive for organizing new members and growing the
Many other delegates who were initially against the change were swayed by
the argument that unions bargain for pay increases on a percentage basis. A 3%
increase means a lot more dollars to $30 dollar an hour worker than it does to
a $15 an hour worker. Many delegates believed that there was an overriding
issue of fairness involved when they decided to support the change in the way
Council 75 collects it’s minimum dues.
The average Oregon AFSCME member
earns about $40,000 per year. The closer you are to that figure, the less your
dues will change. If you make more than $40,000 – which is not an exact figure
– you’ll be paying more in Council 75 minimum dues. If you make less, your
Council minimum dues will go down.
The 1.27 percent figure should be
good for a minimum of 6-7 years. Union leaders did not want to adopt a rate
that would need to be changed (increased) constantly. Factoring inflation and
such, the 1.27 figure should keep the Council on sound-but-equivalent footing
for the immediate future. But that model includes collecting somewhat more in
years one through three and banking it to offset an overall budget loss in the
Dues changes compared
to wage increases
Local 328 members received their bargained 3% increase in July 2007.
If you earn $10/ hr your wage increase was about $52 per month
If you earn $15/ hr your wage increase was about $87 per month
If you earn $20/ hr your wage increase was about $104 per month
If you earn $25/ hr your wage increase was about $130 per month
If you earn $30/ hr your wage increase was about $156 per month
If you earn $40/ hr your wage increase was about $207 per month
When we bargain a raise for
member we bargain a percentage. That results in high wage members getting a
much larger raise in dollars than low wage members. However, our dues increases
have always been in flat dollar amounts, that means a dues increase takes a
much larger percentage of a low wage workers wages than it does from a high
wage worker. That's why we believe the new structure is more fair all the way around and reduces the disparate impact of dues increases on low wage workers.