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Raising the Cap: A More Progressive Dues Structure


Dear UC-AFT members, 

At our meeting on October 29, the UC-AFT Council unanimously passed a motion to raise the cap on union dues from $85 to $100 per month. A change in the dues structure is a change to the UC-AFT Constitution, which requires a vote of the membership and majority support from 2/3 of the campus locals. An increase in the dues cap is necessary for several reasons, which we outline below, along with a detailed description of the voting timeline and process.   

Our current membership dues are 1.5% of monthly salary with a cap at $85 per month. Those who have not yet joined the union pay the same amount in Fairshare fees. The cap currently kicks in when monthly income exceeds $5,666. If you earn less than $5,666 per month, the cap increase will not affect you at this time. If the proposal passes, the new $100 per month cap will kick in at a monthly income of $6,666. Our members who earn more than $6,666 per month will have a maximum dues increase of $15 per month or $180 per year. If you earn between $5,666 and $6,666 per month, your dues will increase between $1-14 per month. 

During the last few years our union has invested a great deal of money bargaining new contracts and organizing for future contracts. As we saw with the 2016 lecturer contract, these efforts have resulted in large salary increases. In fact, over the period covered by the new Unit 18 contract, most lecturers will see their salaries go up 18% (including merits). The new annualized average salary is now close to $70,000. An 18% increase at this average salary is equivalent to $12,600 for a full-time lecturer. 

The UC-AFT ran a deficit last year and we expect this to continue in the near future. A major reason for this deficit is that we have hired additional highly qualified staff to serve our members. We have also vigorously defended our contracts through the costly grievance and arbitration processes. And, significantly, our legal costs have gone up because we have been fighting the efforts of several campuses to create new job titles and move our work out of our bargaining units. Finally, our organizing costs have increased as we have redoubled our commitment to the principle of union democracy and member led activism and organizing campaigns. As a result of this work, our membership levels are higher than they have ever been.

In addition, we may be entering one of the most difficult periods faced by labor unions and other social welfare and justice groups in many, many decades. We can expect attacks on the laws that support collective bargaining and union participation, and on the agencies tasked with upholding these laws. One likely outcome of the new administration is a Supreme Court that will end the Fairshare fee, which will have a devastating impact on our union's budget and our ability to negotiate contract improvements. Ensuring that our union is well funded now is the best way we can prepare for whatever difficulties we may face in the coming years.

We are therefore proposing to increase the monthly dues cap from $85 to $100. Union members will vote and the increase will be ratified if 2/3rds of the campuses support it. Our council and board have approved the increase unanimously.

Each campus will hold meetings to discuss the dues cap increase prior to an online vote during the fourth week of January 2017. Members of the UC-AFT Executive Board are available to visit the campuses to discuss the increase with union members. Please keep an eye out for announcements from your local board and staff regarding meetings and the vote.

Please support your union and our work by supporting this proposal for a small increase to the cap on union dues.

In solidarity, 

UC-AFT Executive Board, 

Bob Samuels
Mia McIver
Ben Harder
Axel E. Borg
Miki Goral