President’s Column – Tom Bontly
Last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in the case of Janus v. AFSCME that public employee unions can no longer collected “agency” or “fair share” fees from unit members who refuse to join the union but nonetheless reap the benefits of collective bargaining. While I believe that the five-justice majority’s reasoning was flawed and their ruling unjust, Janus is now the law of the land, and UConn-AAUP is in compliance.
The good news is that, as a result of our membership drive, UConn-AAUP now has a higher membership rate than ever before. The challenge will be to keep those numbers headed in the right direction, so that the chapter can continue defending our rights, protecting our salaries and benefits, and supporting excellence in higher education.
Janus was merely the latest skirmish in the reactionary right’s long war on workers’ rights. Now the same groups behind Janus have launched well-funded misinformation campaigns: setting up front groups with progressive-sounding names (like “right to work”, i.e., for less), telling tall tales about “union bosses” supposedly living large off members’ dues, and urging members to “opt out”. Heck – they’ll even write an opt-out letter for you!
Unsurprisingly, the reality is quite different. Internal memos from the State Policy Network, a consortium of right-wing thinktanks, revealed the not-so-hidden partisan agenda behind this effort: “permanently depriving the left from access to millions of dollars in dues extracted from unwilling union members every election cycle”. Never mind that corporate political contributions already dwarfed those from labor organizations, SPN and friends want to tilt the playing field so far to the right that all of us who actually have to work for a living slide right off!
In case you are contacted by one of these organizations pushing you to “opt out”, I ask you to do three things. First, remember that UConn-AAUP is a member-supported, member-run organization whose one and only mission is to serve the UConn faculty. Second, I hope you’ll keep in mind that we are stronger together, and that your colleagues are counting on you to stick with them. And third, please contact our office (860-487-0450 or firstname.lastname@example.org) so that we can track these efforts to undermine your collective bargaining rights and respond appropriately.
Until then, thank you for being a loyal member of UConn-AAUP!