The basic function of New York labor unions is to provide protection to members in myriad ways. This will include shielding from capricious decisions on the part of management and ownership; proving adequate pay; adhering to safety protocols; providing medical benefits and more. Since unions came into existence, there have been attempts to tamp down on their power or to gut workers’ legal rights under labor law. Union members must have legal representation to spot these tactics and to put a stop to it.
A recent decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court in which workers are no longer obligated to pay union dues has sparked efforts from certain groups to sow discord in the ranks of various public unions. The group is responsible for sending more than a half-million emails to public sector union workers informing them that they can leave their union. There is a website link attached to the email and a form letter to inform the union they are opting out. Some unions, such as the New York State United Teachers, have fought back against this movement imploring members to delete the email and label it as spam.
It is believed that special interests and wealthy backers are behind this movement, and it is all to essentially sabotage the unions and reduce their bargaining power by depleting their ranks. New York State Police have also taken steps to fight back against this attempt by asking the governor to cease working with a consultancy that is working with the entities they see as trying to break the unions. While the Supreme Court decision allows workers to stop paying “agency fees” that were like union dues and meant to help the unions fund their work, the decision on the part of workers to stop paying these fees can damage the unions’ ability to negotiate.
Many union members are unaware of exactly how these decisions can negatively impact their job. For example, these decisions could reduce their ability to negotiate a fair collective bargaining agreement. These decisions could even threaten their job security. When there are attempts to strip a union of its power, it is imperative to take action to protect the interests of union members.