your union dues do for you
37 dues are one of the best investments you'll ever make."
By Mark Rosenthal,
Treasurer, DC 37
Nobody likes to see money taken from their paycheck.
But your union dues are one of the best investments you'll ever make. Think about
members generally earn 25 percent higher pay than non-unionized employees who
do the same work, says the U.S. Department of Labor.
Compared to non-union
employees, unionized workers also get better benefits - such as health insurance,
guaranteed pensions, prescription drug cards, eye glasses and tuition reimbursement.
According to the Fiscal Policy Institute, a Washington D.C. think tank, this "union
premium" plus the salary difference gives union members a whopping 39 percent
more in total compensation.
As treasurer, my job is to make sure your dues are properly
spent. Together with our annual audit (see page 14 of PEP, Oct. issue), I thought
it would be appropriate to explain in everyday language how your dues are used.
The lion's share of your duesover 50 percentgoes
toward DC 37's operating budget$34.1 million in 2002.
and general expenses constitute the greatest share of our budget. These expendituresincluding
maintenance, security, telephone services, data processing, payroll taxes, benefits
and insurance- make it possible for union locals and DC 37 staff to do their job
From grievances to contracts
Over a fifth of the budget
goes for our six field divisions. Union reps in the divisions handle the grievances
and job-related problems of our school, hospital, clerical-administrative, blue-collar,
white-collar and professional members.
The executive office, led by DC
37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts, constitutes 13 percent of the budget. Ms.
Roberts and her staff work closely with your chief elected officers (president,
secretary and myself, the treasurer) and your local leaders to make sure members
are serviced aggressively. They craft strategy to win contracts, strengthen our
involvement with community allies and forge political ties.
employees, our jobs depend on elected officials and legislators who are committed
to healthy government. Your Political Action and Legislation Dept. mobilizes members
to help elect sympathetic politicians, fights for funding of government programs
and promotes the passage of pro-worker legislation, such as the historic pension
cost-of-living adjustments we won recently.
Staff in the Research and
Negotiations Dept. does critical policy analysis and works closely with unit bargaining
committees to shape the contracts that determine the pay and working conditions
of our 125,000 members.
The Public Employee Press is mailed to the home
of every DC 37 family to keep you informed about union news and activities. PEP
and the union's Web site, radio show, media outreach and public relations campaigns
put a positive face on the work of the union and its members, promote our political
agenda, expose abuses at job sites and instill pride among members for the vital
work they do.
Our Legal Dept. makes up 6.4 percent of the budget. Your
lawyers handle grievance arbitrations, draft proposed legislation and take on
important legal battles, such as the fight to protect members from being displaced
by workfare. Health and Safety staff inspect job sites, develop educational material
and press government to enforce safety regulations.
Other budget areas
include Quality of Work Life, Human Resources, printing, mailing, accounting and
Some 16.5 percent of your dues go to AFSCME, our parent
union, which represents us in Washington and organizes public employees nationwide
to strengthen us politically. In New York, AFSCME's six councils with 400,000
members work together on a common political agenda to ensure funding for government
programs. The remaining one third of dues goes to your local for lobbying and
other member services.
So, next time you're scrutinizing the deductions
from your paycheck, I hope you will agree with me that your dues represent a good
investment. Coupled with the DC 37 Health and Security Plan's independent budget,
which is based upon city contributions that the union wins at the bargaining table
- your dues fund a range of services that have set the gold standard for unions
across the country.
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