Judging by union density, a public sector worker is over five times more likely to belong to a union than someone in the private sector. It should be no surprise that those who look to extinguish the American labor movement have their sights on dismantling the protections enjoyed by our Teamster brothers and sisters in the public sector.
These efforts may take the form of privatizing public services and turning them over to corporate interests, limiting what employees are allowed to negotiate over or even eliminating the right to collectively bargaining altogether.
For 40 years, it has been the law for nonmember public employees to pay a partial fee for union representation. This has given nonmembers significant rights and benefits negotiated on their behalf. But some nonmember naysayers have filed a lawsuit that may end up before the Supreme Court. In very simple terms, they want to get something for nothing.
If the Supreme Court says it’s OK to be a free rider, dedicated Teamster public employees will lose. It means working together to negotiate good contracts will be more difficult, and the financial resources for unions to provide effective advocacy for members will be reduced.
Feeling the increased strength of the local union has motivated more University of Minnesota employees to become full dues-paying members. “We know the value of a strong local union,” said Nasser Nur, a Local 320 member and a six-year university employee. “I have dignity and respect and I feel safe at my job now that I am represented by a strong local union.”
"Now is the time for all Teamster members to inform and involve all nonmembers," said Michael Filler, Director of the Public Services Division. "If we do not, the important return on work negotiated in our contracts will be taken away by the wealthiest 1 percent in America. Working people remain united. That means we must encourage every nonmember to become an active Teamster today."
In order to combat this potential court decision, the Public Services Division has developed a national Power-Building Plan to assist locals in contacting and communicating with all fair-share payers across the country.
More than 200 Teamster officers, stewards, and members gathered in May for the 2017 Public Services Division Conference.
The two-day gathering was designed to confront the challenges and opportunities facing public service workers head on. The theme of the conference, “Committed to Country and Community,” served as a constant reminder that while Teamster public service members hail from every state, race, religion and political affiliation, all of them dedicated their careers to serving others and that commitment to country and community should be acknowledged and celebrated.
The plan asks affected locals to commit to a detailed plan, with stewards and members engaging all bargaining unit employees, to increase awareness of the benefits of union membership and converting all fair-share payers into full members. By building membership through this program, the bargaining unit, the local union and the American labor movement will gain strength and continue to lift working families up to a higher standard of living.
“Whenever there is an issue at work, the Teamsters are right on it,” said Lisa Day-Silva, a nurse employed by Contra Costa County, California, for the past 17 years and a member of Local 856. “Before we were represented by the Teamsters, our work issues were silenced. But the Teamsters care about their members. I am proud to be a Teamster because they stand with us on the job.”
“Now is the time that each member must make a commitment to speak with each nonmember. Talk about the value of being a Teamster, and how, by actively participating in the union, we can improve the chances for a promising future,” said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters General President.
If you would like to help with the Power-Building Plan, please contact your local or John Mataya, National Coordinator for the Public Services Division at [email protected].
The Public Services Division is hosting a national conference call for public employee Teamsters about the Country and Community campaign. The call is on TUESDAY, AUG. 29, 2017, at 3:30 p.m. (EST). The toll-free number is: 877-327-9495 CODE 111566.