I have never been a member of a labor union, thank God, although my dad was a union man his whole life. However, Melanie was a member of the Mass. State College Association, a union of state college professors. Membership in the union, as usual, is not optional. Every one who teaches at a state college, no matter how many or few classes they teach, is required to belong and, more importantly, pay union dues.
Yet the union provides no benefits to Melanie or other part-time professors. Their pay is poverty level. They get exactly zero benefits, not even an opportunity to pay for their own health insurance. To top it off they support all kinds of liberal political initiatives which Melanie doesn’t just not support, but which she actively opposes. For such a “liberal” institution in a “liberal” state, it doesn’t exactly support the poor, working man or woman.
Pinky-ringed union bosses getting fat off poor part-timers
The reason I’m ranting now is that we’ve received a dunning letter from the union. They’re claiming that Melanie owes them $180 because she taught one 3-credit summer class last year. (The classes she had to quit mid-semester last fall don’t count.) So for the “privilege” of teaching that one class, the union—which provides her with no benefit—wants 10 percent of her meager earnings. Can you say rip-off?
Of course, she’s required to pay because mealy-mouthed state politicians looking to ingratiate themselves with their constituencies passed a law making it mandatory.
Oh but, she doesn’t actually have to pay union dues, they will say. Technically, you don’t have to belong to the union. Instead you can pay the “Non Union Agency Fee” for the collective bargaining agreement. And how much is that fee? One hundred forty dollars. A savings of $40. Ah, but that’s not all. If she chooses to pay the lower rate, the union representative says that she’ll get paid less for teaching classes. I’m not sure that’s legal.
At this point, we’re not sure Melanie wants to teach at Salem State in the future, but if she wants to keep the option open we have to pay the dues. I hate unions.