News & Information

Editorial: The Fair-Share Challenge

RICHARD STEIER | Editor of the Chief

Posted November 23, 2015

Unions as well as local elected officials have become increasingly vocal on behalf of what in New York is known as the agency-shop fee since the U.S. Supreme Court began its term last month with a California case challenging the concept as part of its docket. They have reason to be outspoken and concerned: a ruling in favor of 10 California Teachers who have the financial backing of a right-wing, anti-labor organization would threaten the long-term viability of public-sector unions.

In places where the agency-shop fee—in other jurisdictions, it is known as “fair-share”—is in effect, those in job titles represented by a public-employee union must pay the equivalent of dues even if they decline to join that union. The logic behind this requirement is that the union is negotiating wages, benefits and working conditions that will help all those under its bargaining certificate.

Over the years, some workers have chosen not to join their unions for political reasons, and they object to having a portion of their fees spent on political-action services that assist candidates whom they don’t support. Despite provisions that require that the unions offer a rebate of the political-action money to those who request it, the current lawsuit argues that this places an undue burden on the workers and wants fair-share scrapped as a violation of their First Amendment rights.

The Supreme Court nearly four decades ago upheld fair-share in a decision involving a Detroit Teachers union, but its more-conservative tinge these days has raised questions about whether a majority of the Justices will honor that precedent. If the high court upheld the California Teachers case, it would have a drastic impact on labor, with other dominoes sure to fall as similar cases were brought elsewhere.

Too often newer members of unions take rights and benefits for granted rather than understanding the painstaking efforts that went into gaining them. With the labor movement in decline over the past 35 years, and with much of the media—including, sad to say, many otherwise liberal organs—covering unions as if they were an anachronistic drain on finances and roadblocks to greater efficiency, there is reason to believe that a significant number of employees, given the chance to avoid paying union dues, would take it.

That, in turn, would weaken the unions, making it difficult to justify their existence to rank and files that would wonder why services were slipping.

For labor, this case cuts across the dividing lines between left-leaning unions and the uniformed ones that are generally more conservative, and could have a ripple effect on private-sector unions. As has become clear with some of its recent decisions, at least some of the Justices are responsive to public sentiment on some of the volatile issues that come before it. And so it’s essential that the unions rally such support as if their future—and that of their members—depended on it.

It does.

MSII Representation Elections

The Election results are in and the

Transit Supervisors Organization

Welcomes the

Maintenance Supervisors II

into our Family!

Attention All MSII's in the

Station Department and Training School

As I had indicated earlier, once we became the bargaining representative for the MSII’s in MOW we would then seek recognition for the MSII’s that were excluded.  Now that we won the election, we are seeking to represent you and all the other excluded MSII’s.

The first step in this process is to get at least 50% of the excluded group to sign representation cards.  Once we have a majority of cards we will seek voluntary recognition from the Authority. We have a reasonable expectation that the Authority may grant us voluntary recognition if we can get a majority of cards.  We also believe that the SSSA will not seek intervention in this organizing campaign. 

Download a representation card and return it to us today!

I would like to thank you for considering Transport Worker Union Local 106 - Transit Supervisors Organization as your bargaining representative and hope to represent you and all the previously excluded MSII’s in the very near future.


Vincent Modafferi

Mother Clara Hale Depot Arbitration Award

*** UP-DATE ***

On March 2, 2015, the SSSA filed a petition in the Supreme Court of New York to vacate the Mother Clara Hale Arbitration Award.  Today, Supreme Court Justice, Debra Silber denied their petition to vacate the award.

On December 17th the parties appeared before the Arbitrator to clarify and discuss issues that were not addressed in the original arbitration award.  If there was any doubt in the original award that MCH depot is an OA depot the supplemental award CONFIRMS that MCH is an OA DEPOT!

This decision is a historic victory for our Union because the award confirms our position that with the closing of 126th Street Depot all of the supervisory work in Manhattan should become TSO represented work.  The decision also recognized the concerns raised by the SSSA in that displacing long-term employees will negatively impacted those employees by not allowing them to continue to work in Manhattan.

The outcome of this award is dramatically different from where we began in this dispute.  Initially, the Authority took the position that they were going to transfer 126th Street work and the SSSA supervisors into MCH depot, as well as them retaining all of their Road Control positions. This caused us to file two grievances.  We then attempted to negotiate a resolution where we would eventually get all of the SSSA’s work in Manhattan.  Throughout these negotiations, it was our strategy to be reasonable and flexible.  After months of negotiation, we failed to reach an agreement, but we did succeed in getting the Authority to abandon their plan to transfer the 126th Street work into MCH depot.  Once we got this agreement from them, we then agreed to a tri-lateral arbitration that would be heard by Howard Edelman.

It is clear from his decision that our strategy worked to our advantage in this proceeding, and as a result of this award, the Authority will no longer hire any new TA supervisors to work in Manhattan.  Our Union will eventually gain nearly 60 additional jobs for our members, and for the first time in the history of this great Organization, we will represent all of the supervisory work in Manhattan!

If you would like a copy of the award, please contact the Union office.

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