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Letter to the Editor - June 28

June 28, 2013

Fair Share still not fair in collective bargaining process

To the editor:

The Fair Share Act was passed in 2009. This law allowed for service fees to be part of the collective bargaining process. The law does not mandate that service fees be negotiated, it simply provides that they can be. The state has decided to allow service fees to be negotiated. The purpose of the fee is to allow a union to recover some of its collective bargaining expenses from nonmembers who might benefit from these negotiations. I have provided information to the Western Maryland delegation to Annapolis and to the Department of Budget and Management, which oversees collective bargaining, that shows service fee payers collectively pay an amount that exceeds AFSCME’s collective bargaining expenses. I have been told that it was not fair for nonmembers to get a free ride, but I ask should nonmembers foot the entire bill?

I have been told numerous times about the philosophy behind Fair Share. I have been told either directly or indirectly by the secretary of Budget and Management as well as members of the Western Maryland delegation. I have told all of these individuals at one time or another that I not only understand the philosophy of Fair Share, I agree with it. My complaint is that the amount of the fee is too high. I have provided information to the delegation that shows that AFSCME takes in approximately $4 million more per year than their collective bargaining expenses.

The delegation and the Department of Budget and Management seem content to allow this. So, what can be done from here?

First, you can contact your legislators and let them know how you feel. Second, you can make sure you vote on a new memo of understanding. When you receive your ratification ballot, do not throw it away. Read it and understand it, and if you think the fee is too high, you have the option to vote no. Third, if you are a member of bargaining Unit H, you have the option to join the Teamsters.

John Roby
Cumberland, Md.

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