I work. I know, big surprise. You probably thought this was all I did.
I have a job and it pays the bills, case closed.
Well, not really. I'm going through the process now of being represented by a union, other than my current membership in the Freelancers Union (Hey All You Freelancers!! Love ya!!). I'm looking to be represented because I changed positions in my agency and it looks as if now, I may be eligible to be in the bargaining unit. And I am THRILLED!
This past summer, I tried to find out the same information, but didn't know who to contact within my agency to determine if I was in the bargaining unit or not. So, I went the route a lot of folks do, I asked management.
I've viewed management as a resource, not necessarily as management. I've believed that they wear many hats and one of the main hats is that of serving as a resource to employees, including being a resource to find information out about union representation.
Unfortunately, I was wrong.
I have since requested union assistance in being represented. In a matter of weeks, they have pushed for me and others like me to be represented in my agency. They've provided me information on legal rulings and have included me in information they send out to members, and I'm still not a member yet. They are doing all of this work, in hopes that I might be able to be represented by them, to the tune of $299 a year.
That's it. $299. That's the membership fee. That's $11.50 per pay. I can't think of anything I pay for that's so small and which I can receive so much for, by just being a member.
And now, this brings me to the Employee Free Choice Act.
The Hill Blog had a number of quotes from around the US in reference to Employee Free Choice. The number one thing I hear from conservatives when unions are brought up is about Dues. Here's the quote from Grover Norquist (Mr. I-want-to-drown-Government-in-a-Bathtub)
The percentage of American workers paying union dues out of their paychecks has fallen from 33% in the 1950s to below 13% today. Fewer than eight percent of non-government workers are in unions.
The union bosses have made it clear that their number one goal is to force more Americans to pay union dues–average about $500 per worker.
So, I decided to find out where this number is coming from. I searched Google for Average Cost of Union Dues. Top three results are anti-union screeds. After that, it's a mix of unions and anti-union forces.
What's a girl to do?
I tried a new search. what are the median US union dues more anti-union crap mixed with union stuff.
What happens when you want an authoritative source of information and not anything biased?
I'd normally turn to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But this is where it became really interesting. Instead of finding what I really wanted, I found something entirely new and even more interesting than what I originally looked for, I found statistics on race, age and gender for unionized workers. And, I found median income values for those groups and subsets.
The data on union membership were collected as part of the Current
Population Survey (CPS). The CPS is a monthly survey of about 60,000
households that obtains information on employment and unemployment
among the nation's civilian noninstitutional population age 16 and
Some highlights from the 2008 data are:
--Government workers were nearly five times more likely to belong
to a union than were private sector employees.
--Workers in education, training, and library occupations had the
highest unionization rate at 38.7 percent.
--Black workers were more likely to be union members than were
white, Asian, or Hispanic workers.
--Among states, New York had the highest union membership rate
(24.9 percent) and North Carolina had the lowest rate (3.5 percent).
Wait, I'm not done:
Union Representation of Nonmembers
About 1.7 million wage and salary workers were represented by a
union on their main job in 2008, while not being union members them-
selves. (See table 1.) About half of these workers were employed
in government. (See table 3.)
One of the things that Republicans say when bashing unions is first, DUES, DUES DUES (um, dudes I want to pay MEMBERSHIP DUES for a union the way you, Mr Norquist, want to pay membership dues for your country club. I just get more out of my union, I get advocacy. Do you get that from the country club? Sorry, I digress). As if the concept of paying for a service is scary. I suppose to a Mr. Norquist or Mr. Newt Gingrich or Mr. Dick Cheney (oh, wait, he was a dues paying member of the IBEW, so his word probably doesn't count) that paying for services render is scary because some of the services rendered are things like negotiating, or arbitration, or shop steward advocacy or web sites or... darn scary stuff.
Recently, I joined AFGE. No, I'm still not in the bargaining unit, AFGE is now filing suit on my behalf (and apparently, a number of other folks like me who have asked), but I decided I'd at least pay my dues to my local for the services I've already used, like the advocacy of my shop steward.
I might not be the kind of person who can or would pay to join a country club, but I am the kind of person who can manage to pay $11.50 per pay to help my local build itself into a stronger union with better and more fabulous services. Most importantly, when I pay my dues, I am one of many, speaking in one voice, the union. What could be more American that that? E Pluribus Unum