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MSEA-SEIU Local 1989
65 State Street
PO Box 1072
Augusta, ME 04332-1072


SEIU Local 1989

Frequently Asked Questions about Fair Share

What is Fair Share?
A Fair Share fee is a payment for a Union's representational services. It is also referred to as a service fee or agency fee. It is one form of a Union Security provision in a contract, and requires everyone in the bargaining unit to either join the Union as a member or to pay a fee representing the individual employee's pro-rata share of the cost of the Union's representational work. Fair Share payers are not members; they simply pay for the services they receive.

Do other Unions have Fair Share provisions in their contracts?
Yes. Union Security clauses requiring either membership in the Union or payment of a service fee are the rule, not the exception, in most of the United States. State workers in all the other Northeastern states are subject to Fair Share provisions, including New Hampshire and Vermont.

Couldn’t the Union only represent the members who want to pay for representation?
No. Under our labor relations laws, Unions are certified as the exclusive bargaining agent for all employees in a bargaining unit, including employees who don’t want representation. The Union is required to represent non-members equally and fairly.

Are Fair Share provisions legal?
Absolutely. The United States and the Maine Supreme Courts have consistently affirmed the principle that Unions and employers in this state may require employees in a bargaining unit to pay for the representational services the Union is required to provide. Lenhert v. Ferris Faculty Association, 500 US 507 (1991);  Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 431 US 209 (1977); Opinion of the Justices, 401 A.2d 135 (Me. 1979).

Why did MSEA-SEIU push for Fair Share in its agreements?
Because the members asked for it. For decades, MSEA-SEIU members paid the cost of bargaining and enforcing good contracts for co-workers who paid nothing. Those non-members weaken the Union, and cost the members money. The MSEA-SEIU Council voted to make the fight for Fair Share a priority.

Are Fair Share payers required to be members?
No. Fair Share payers are, by definition, non-members. They have no rights within the Union. They are simply consumers who are required to pay for the services they receive.

How is the Fair Share rate determined?
Every year, the Union's Finance Director calculates the percentage of last year's expenditures that were “germane to the union’s representational activities.” This excludes political or non-representational expenditures. Those calculations are then audited, and notices are provided in June. Employees are given an opportunity to review the information and to challenge the calculation.

What if a non-member refuses to authorize payroll deduction of the Fair Share fee?
Bargaining unit members are not required to pay the required fee through payroll deduction, so long as they tender their fees directly to the Union in a timely manner. The Union will bill employees who decline payroll deduction, and will enforce the agreement if they fail to pay those bills. The contracts provide specific procedures for enforcement, ending in binding arbitration.