Cumberland Times-News

June 18, 2013

What Maryland calls the Fair Share Act isn’t fair at all

To the Editor:
Cumberland Times-News

— 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.

In this case 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 their collective bargaining expenses from non-members who may benefit from these negotiations.

In this case, I have provided information to the Western Maryland delegation to Annapolis and the Department of Budget and Management, the department 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 non-members to get a free ride but I ask, should the non-members 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.

I have stated many times to the delegation and to the Department of Budget and Management that my complaint is that the amount of the fee is too high.

I have provided information to the delegation which shows that AFSCME takes in approximately $4 million more per year than their collective bargaining expenses.

This information was also forwarded to the Department of Budget and Management. Despite being provided this information which has never been proven to be inaccurate, the delegation and the Department of Budget and Management seem content to allow this.

In defense of the local delegation, they did send a few letters in an attempt to get clarification and facts. I believe the delegation could have and should have looked deeper into the allegations presented to them.

So with that being said, the next question is what can be done from here? First thing is contact your legislators and let them know how you feel. Second thing is make sure you vote when it comes time to vote on a new MOU.

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.

I believe that service fee payers outnumber the union members and therefore should be able to stop ratification until a fair service fee amount is established.

Third, if you are a member of Unit H, you have the option to join the Teamsters. If you have any questions about service fees or Teamsters, contact me at jroby@live.com Please do not use my work e-mail, AFSCME might cry again.

John Roby

Cumberland