Do part time employees have to pay union dues in NYS?
1 attorney answer
If the collective bargaining agreement (contract between the employer and the union) requires part-time employees to join the union – which it probably does – then you must join and pay dues. But please don't think that the only thing a union does is negotiate benefits. First, it is nearly always the employer and not the union that resists (or refuses) to provide benefits to part-time employees. Second, unions negotiate pay rates and raises, hours of work, and terms of employment. They provide job security through the grievance and arbitration process and, most importantly, through seniority.
There is an option in private sector workplaces and most public sector workplaces where an employee who objects to joining the union for certain reasons, such as religion, does not have to join. However, that employee must still pay his or her fair share of the collective bargaining costs, which is usually the same or almost the same as regular dues. So you might as well be a member. As a member, you can vote for officers and for bargaining positions. You can lobby for a better deal for part-time employees, especially if there are a lot of them.
Finally, one thing to consider is that even with faults, unions are the only thing standing between any worker and the employer’s ability to do whatever it wants. Without unions, there is no organized opposition to corporate efforts to take away workers’ rights. It is no coincidence that as union membership has declined, so have on-the-job benefits such as health insurance and pensions.
All your life, you’ve heard “there is strength in numbers.” You hear it because it is true. The best way to make a union stronger and better-able to help all workers is to participate in its work. Read the collective bargaining agreement (contract). Attend union meetings, ask questions and think about what is happening at the workplace. Help your union help you.
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