Union Dues

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There have been several questions lately about our Union dues and what they are used for.

On our web site, for general reference, you will find two documents. One is a two-page document containing a pie chart of the general distribution of dues money and a list of the differences between paying union dues and being a fair-share fee payer. The second document is a pie chart showing a breakdown of dues for a person earning $4,185 per month, which is close to an average wage for an AFSCME member in Oregon. OHSU employees average a bit more than that, but the chart will give you a good idea.

We are often asked “What do I get for my dues?” It’s a fair question.

In addition to paying staff salaries and supplying office space and all the infrastructure that goes with maintaining a state and national organization, you get direct economic benefits.

It’s a well-researched fact that union members, on average, earn significantly more than non-union members. But let’s break it down even closer to home than that.

All we have to do is look at proposals OHSU made in bargaining this year and during the last contract to see the economic benefit of having a union.

This year, OHSU has proposed extending the time to reach the top step in the pay range from 10 years to 17 years. If they succeed in that, it will cost the average OHSU employee about $13,000 in lost wages. If we fight that off and succeed in maintaining the 10-year top-out, that will save the average worker $13,000, and over that period of time she or he will pay about $4,000 in union dues. That’s $9,000 dollars extra in your pocket that you would not have if no one was here to tell OHSU “no.”

Let’s look at another case. This one won’t make you happy, but let’s look at it anyway. Last bargaining, OHSU proposed cutting the PERS 6% pickup. Without a union, they would have just done it, and been done with it. We were able to bargain a one-year delay in implementation and an 18-month 5% subsidy followed by a 6-month 3% subsidy. Those subsidies put about $7,800 dollars in each PERS employee’s pocket that they would not have received without a union. During that time, those employees would have paid about $1,700 in union dues. That’s about $6,100 dollars that the average PERS employee gained by having a union.

Multiply this by all the nickel-and-diming OHSU would get away with year after year and the big take-backs on health insurance and other benefits that are waiting in the wings when no one is here to stop them.

Your 50 bucks a month in union dues is the best investment you have.

18 thoughts on “Union Dues”

  1. Frank, This is good insight. I like the chart and explanation. I think is shows as flat amount but OHSU employment has grown and I would suspect ours has too along with our total dues payroll. So more and more of OHSU money is funding these initatives in the pie chart ,some of which are fixed costs that serve us directly- like you (I love you but you are fixed cost and I don’t think you get a raise for every new member – do you? :) )- what is mechanism to change this? In other words I think we should send a flat amount to the Big AFSCME and we the local keep the rest for our purposes.

    I think a pie chart showing the last 3 -5 years should show this – dues collected as a $ – then how much in actual dollars went to each place. This would be illustrative of the magnatitude. When talking pay check by pay check – it seems the same – even average – but when you take $600 a year times 3000, 4000, or 5000 employees that’s a lot of shuttles we could run. We make money by charging OHSU for other employees….?

    I will talk to Matt but this is more than you get a certain % and we talk – think we deserve a larger share for our employees direct benefit. How can we get more money to directly help OHSU AFSCME not the national or 75 – but OHSU AFSCME – like get me a shuttle or give me a emergency fund.

    1. Scott this is a conversation for members to have among members. This really is a member run organization and as paid staff I shouldn’t be advising you or any elected leader on matters like this. Touching base with Matt is a good place to start.

  2. Ok I will follow up with Matt – but what about posting the numbers? I understand and appreciate your position. Having insight will inform the conversation.

    1. I’m going to let that up to the Matt and the board. The numbers aren’t secret, but it’s not a discussion I should be in the middle of. While I appreciate your concerns and want to stress that it is entirely within your rights as a member to get that info and have that discussion, I – to be perfectly honest – don’t want this discussion on the blog to become a distraction from bargaining.

  3. I want a raise and lower dues, because it is all money to me that I earned. If my check grew as fast as the OHSU and AFSCME’s coffers I would be rich.

    I think we all need excerise our freedoms to speak up – it is not about bargaining it is about what is best for us – which is about economics and my paycheck. Why can’t my dues go down – AFSCME gets more money with every raise and every new hire. I get to train those new hires and deal with their whining. More money is what I want through a raise and lower dues.

  4. Matt and the Board – please post the numbers. For all to see whether is here or on the main site. We deserve the transparency.

  5. Let’s just take a look at what happened to Wisconsin when the unions were weakened. Do we really want that to happen to us?? Dues are a small price to pay considering all the advantages unions bring us.

  6. Renee -sorry I don’t buy the boogeyman in the closet rationale – transparency and accountablity are weakening? The members decide once we see the numbers.

  7. I challenge any member who thinks dues are too high or a waste of money to attend 1 bargaining session between OHSU and AFSCME members) any Thursday through late June and see for yourself who has your back. If you want protection from losing what you already have in benefits and wage, don’t look to OHSU management. To even consider gaining more quality of work life, don’t look to OHSU: their motivation is spending their huge profits on things other than classified staff, while the union is more interested in treating members fairly, equitably and as an asset to OHSU. Don’t take my word for it, attend a bargaining session.

  8. Maureen – I don’t question effort – I question the expense and value. It looks like there are a heck a lot of OHSU employees at the table which is great. I want more money in my pocket- looking to OHSU is one area – looking to the Union is another. What does the price of dues have to due with bargaining? I see guys at park busting tail playing ball for free – while the Blazers make millions and loaf up and down the court – so what? Blame who you want – OHSU the Union – I don’t care – I want more in paycheck – and it seems like the dues are just as random and unfair as the OHSU offers. It’s all my money as I said and union is getting their cut. Don’t tell me all the awful things that would’ve happened because when I look at my manager she seems to have the same benefits and retirement as me. I suppose she works more and probably gets a bonus but pays not dues.

  9. Matt – please post them – as the Dali Lama says, ” A LACK OF TRANSPARENCY RESULTS IN DISTRUST AND A DEEP SENSE OF INSECURITY”

  10. Union dues are a tax deduction if you itemize. Save those thrift shop donation receipts, deduct both and come out well ahead even if you have to pay a tax filing service.

  11. I will be in touch Matt- I hope he will provide the data. I hope that when I post the data – it will be allowed by moderator.

    By giving people the power to share, we’re making the world more transparent – Mark Zuckerberg

  12. @oldgoat – In your comment you noted “…it is not about bargaining it is about what is best for us – which is about economics and my paycheck.” Bargaining is about economics and our paychecks.
    “The more union dues shrink, the less unions are able to protect and advocate for the workers they represent – a responsibility that grows increasingly crucial as corporate influence looms ever larger. Though no one loves paying taxes – or dues – both are vital to the survival of our democracy.”

  13. Bernie – I can find 100 links to say the opposite like this one

    or this one


    Yea these are right wing rags, like the left wing rag you posted. However, the first one has some interesting data. Put down your pom poms and kool aid – and take note of the data.

    So far I have heard there is boogeyman, seen a link from a website, learned I can deduct them from my taxes (I will keep that along with my Chinook Winds losses when I visit my Uncle Sammy next April), and been told to think of everything awful that has happened – it would’ve been twice as bad if the union hadn’t saved my bacon. I am goat so my pig friends saw a better benefit than did I.

    It seems many are using the logic that leads to if we paid higher dues we would’ve had a better contract? No I don’t think so – so of course the opposite is true. If we pay less it will be worse contract. Not true either. I see my boss gets the same pers benefits and has no dues. Baaaaaaad math Frank.

    I see there is 4 year contract on the table – well that is 25% less work as I see to start – so at least 25% reduction in dues please.

    We get all these big raises and pay increases in our new 4 year contract – the union makes it all back anyway – see Old Goat wins – Union wins.

    Paying the same dues rates is baaaaaaad.

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