What does the AFT do for us?

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  • #2545

    David Reagan

    I’ve been wondering this for a while. Why do we need to be affiliated with an organization outside of Lane? What does AFT do for us?

  • #2563

    president
    Moderator

    Here is an answer from Bryan Lally our field rep:

    The short answer is resources. Being the rep assigned to LCCEF, I am one of those resources, supporting the local in working through the bargaining process, grievances and arbitrations and any other matters that might come up. AFT also provides resources in the form of training and support for union officers and stewards to help them run their locals successfully. AFT provides organizers to help locals build their membership, which builds bargaining power.

    Another big contribution of AFT is being a presence in Salem to push for school funding as well as pro-education laws and regulations. That is in addition to AFT fighting to protect your retirement (PERS) and opposing attempts to weaken collective bargaining rights. The national AFT plays a similar legislative role, working with elected officials in Congress.

    Bryan

  • #2578

    David Reagan

    I can understand the need for training. That exactly the kind of thing I’d expect any dues to go toward.

    Is AFT the only way we can access the needed training?

    I don’t see the need for AFT to help “build membership.” That should be handled by Lane’s Union reps.

    > Another big contribution of AFT is being a presence in Salem to push for school funding as well as pro-education laws and regulations. That is in addition to AFT fighting to protect your retirement (PERS) and opposing attempts to weaken collective bargaining rights. The national AFT plays a similar legislative role, working with elected officials in Congress.

    This is the part that bothers me. Over the years I’ve only ever seen Education related Unions oppose ideas that would help improve Education. I’ve also only ever seen labor unions oppose changes that would help create new jobs and improve wages. So I see no point in supporting lobbying that will only harm Lane Community College.

    That said, I know many at Lane would believe exactly the opposite of me.

    So, is there a way I can make sure any money I give LCCEF does not go towards political lobbying?

    Basically, give me the chance to support the LCCEF, without forcing me to support political lobbying I disagree with.

     

     

  • #2649

    Bryan Lally

    David –

    There are unionized groups that are independent and not affiliated with a larger organization,  however they typically spend large amounts of money retaining and using law firms to help them effectively handle representation issues, like complex grievances, labor-management disputes, contract bargaining, etc.

    In a perfect world, each local would have the needed number of activists in house, and those activists would have the needed amount of time at their disposal, and they would have the needed amount of expertise to mount successful contract campaigns, deal with day-to-day problems, handle grievances and arbitrations and maintain a strong, on-going organizing effort. Unfortunately, it is a very rare union that can claim such robust assets.

    That’s where the larger organization comes in. For example, when the union needs to boost its membership numbers in order to have more power at the bargaining table, the “parent” organization can loan professional organizers to the local. These people not only provide experienced boots on the ground, they help the local members learn how to do organizing work on their own.

    In addition, an independent local holds very little political power because it represents a smaller constituency. When it comes to supporting or opposing legislation, our elected leaders often pay more attention to representatives from large groups, simply because they represent large numbers of voters. Of course, they also pay attention to those who give them lots of money. Since unions usually can’t financially compete with big-money corporate donors, we play to our strength – the number of voters we can turn out.

    I see that you mentioned some unions opposed legislation that would support LCC. I’m not sure what legislation you are referring to, but if you could give me some examples I will try to respond.

    Finally, thank you for posting your thoughts.  I would much rather have people asking questions and trying to learn how the union works than sitting on their hands. And if the union is not functioning in a way you think is proper, I encourage you to get involved.

    Bryan

  • #2655

    David Reagan

    Bryan,

    Thanks for the detailed reply. 🙂

    A couple quick thoughts before I start work.

    Your comment about law firms does make sense.

    I’m not sure I agree that we need help from outside Lane for the day to day stuff that doesn’t involve lawyers. Training for it, yes, but I’d expect the need for more help would become obvious when there aren’t enough people helping. If it isn’t becoming obvious, I’d question if it’s really needed in the first place, and I’d guess the Union would need to reevaluate how it communicates with its members.

    > In addition, an independent local holds very little political power because it represents a smaller constituency.

    I’m fine with that. Unions do not need political power.

    > … our elected leaders often pay more attention to representatives from large groups, simply because they represent large numbers of voters.

    This is one of the reasons I really really did not like the fair share dues. They allowed the AFT to claim that they were representing me, when they were NOT representing me.

    Hmm… As I think about it, I’d be ok with large unions if the unions made sure to keep their political lobbying completely separate from their actual work. So, if a Union president went to lobby for, or against, a bill, they’d not count those hours as part of their normal salary. When claiming to represent a certain number of people, they’d only use numbers of people who have specifically allowed themselves to be counted for that. And so on.

    > I see that you mentioned some unions opposed legislation that would support LCC. I’m not sure what legislation you are referring to, but if you could give me some examples I will try to respond.

    Hrm, my argument there is rather weak, I don’t have any specifics. In general I’ve seen Unions largely support economic policies and laws that have resulted in fewer jobs and lower wages. I’ve seen public school unions block programs that would give parents the ability to send their kids to schools where they would succeed. And so on.

     

  • #2656

    Bryan Lally

    David –

    Just a couple more thoughts.

    I would disagree that unions don’t need political power. Over the years there have been several attempts to reduce PERS benefits for public employees. Those attempts might well have succeeded in gutting your pension plan had unions not taken immediate, decisive action. I’m not saying PERS is perfect, but it’s an important benefit that I believe should be closely guarded.

    In addition, school funding is a critical part of a good educational system.  AFT is currently pressing the legislature to increase funding for community colleges by $200 million for the the next biennium. That would certainly benefit LCC. And you can be sure there will be plenty of groups working against such an increase, or trying to get the money spent in other ways. If we’re not in the legislature’s ear, all they will hear are those in opposition.

    And I agree that there are definitely positions a union might take that are not agreeable to everyone. But that is the case with any organization, be it a political party, a PTA, a religious group or a social club. If groups only took a position when they had unanimous support, it would be tough to get anything done.

    Thanks for the feedback and thank you for the work you do. Have a great day.

    Bryan

  • #2710

    David Reagan

    @Matt, why are earlier posts greyed out like that? It’s really odd and hard to read.

    @Bryan

    > And I agree that there are definitely positions a union might take that are not agreeable to everyone. But that is the case with any organization, be it a political party, a PTA, a religious group or a social club. If groups only took a position when they had unanimous support, it would be tough to get anything done.

    The thing is, I expect there are a LARGE number of people who share my views on how Unions play politics. It’s one thing when just a few people disagree, it’s another when a large number disagree.

    Everything I have seen from the Union leadership leans heavily to the left of the political spectrum. Their actions, when lobbying, lean heavily to the left. From everything I can see, the USA is pretty much split 50/50, so I can’t imagine Unions members are much different. Is it really right for the Union leadership to act like half their membership (or 25% or 30% or whatever it may be) support political views they don’t? That seems like fairly major lie to me.

    So, here’s what I’d like to be able to do:

    Join and support my local union without:

    • My dues being used for political purposes.
    • My name/membership being used to claim support for a political viewpoint without my explicit opt in.
    • Union leaders/workers being paid salaries from my dues when they are pursuing political activities.

    Is there a way to do that?

  • #2712

    Communications
    Keymaster

    Topics auto-close after a month.  I’ll see if I can edit the closed topic text color so they’re more readable.

  • #2745

    Bryan Lally

    When taking a position, the union is not stating that 100% of their membership is in agreement with that position. I can’t think of an organization that, when taking a position on anything, gives a percentage of  how many in the group support it. At the local level, the endorsement of local politicians is typically done by a majority vote at a general membership meeting, though I am not sure how LCCEF handles it.

    When it comes to politics, rather than looking to see if there is an “R” or a “D” after the candidate’s name, the union’s support is mostly tied to where the candidate stands on employment-related issues that are important to our members, like decent wages, protecting PERS and funding for education. If a lot of Republicans strongly supported these issues, you’d probably see more of them endorsed.

    As far as the type of membership you are inquiring about, now that Fair Share has been done away with by the Janus decision, there is no option to pay dues in any way other than as a full member. As far as not wanting you name associated with the union’s political decisions, in other unions where I’ve worked I’ve seen some locals organize a conservative caucus, which can give a voice to like-minded people.

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