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.
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.
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.
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).
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
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.
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
if a non-member refuses to authorize payroll deduction of the Fair Share
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.