As you may have heard, the Supreme Court has issued their long-awaited decision in the case of Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31 which concerns union dues and, more specifically, mandated fair-share fee payers. As was widely expected, the Court overruled long-standing precedent by holding that the mandated fees charged to non-voting members to deal with the “freerider” problem violated the First Amendment’s free speech protections. Under the ruling, attorneys and judges in our bargaining unit will now be entitled to enjoy all the benefits of the union – including raises, contract protection, and representation in disciplinary cases – without having to pay for it. This means that our Voting Members, who understand the necessity to band together in order to have any meaningful voice in negotiations with the State, must now subsidize the “freeriders” who elect not to pay.
The Court is trying to take away our voice, but it is not too late. Despite the fact that CASE has among the lowest member dues of any state bargaining unit (usually lower than the amount taken out of secretaries’ paychecks each month), many of your colleagues have elected not to become full Voting Members of CASE. This is short-sighted, unfair, and, ultimately, self-defeating. The small amount of dues saved will inevitably lead to a weakening of our ability to negotiate future increased salaries and protect pension benefits.
We will not let this activist court decision silence us. Like it or not, state employee salaries are decided in the political arena and we are a small bargaining unit of only 3,800 legal professionals. It is extremely difficult for us to ensure our voices are heard among the thousands of special interests at the State Capitol if we do not have every legal professional in Unit 2 joining together as Voting Members. If you are already a Voting Member, we urge you to encourage all of your colleagues to join CASE today.
We have learned that many people think they are Voting Members already but have only been paying the mandated fair-share fees that were overruled by the Janus decision. We need those people to join now to ensure that we can continue to effectively advocate for everyone. If you are unsure of your status, please feel free to contact CASE and we can determine your status and forward you the form needed to join the majority of your colleagues as a Voting Member. You can contact us here: https://www.calattorneys.org/contact.
We are carefully analyzing the decision and working to implement it with the Controller. We will forward details as soon as they are available. We are working on several potential legislative responses to help restore fairness to the Dills Act because it currently requires that CASE continue to represent the freeriders. We are also actively looking for additional ways to save money by working both effectively and efficiently. The CASE Board of Directors are all unpaid volunteers who continue to perform their full-time judicial and legal jobs. CASE operates with a very lean team of only five paid staff members.
Despite our small size and limited resources, we recently negotiated one of the best contracts Unit 2 has ever obtained, which guaranteed 14% raises for every member of Unit 2 over three years. Four percent of that raise will begin being earned by our hard-working professionals on July 1st.
Voting Membership has other advantages as well. Nearly a third of current Voting Members take advantage of excellent discounts on long-term disability, long-term care, and life insurance. Voting Members also have access to discounts at many family entertainment and sports events throughout the state. Most importantly, Voting Members get to decide whether to ratify every contract, vote in CASE elections, and participate in CASE committees including the Bargaining Committee.
This is a critical moment for every legal professional who works in public service. Each of our actions and decisions will have a lasting impact on our salaries and the security of the pensions we have all earned as a critical part of our public service employment. Even before Janus was filed, CASE was already engaged in a program to modernize our practices and improve service to members in all areas. We give you our promise and commitment to continue that work. If you are already a Voting Member, thank you. If not, please join your colleagues as Voting Members so that together we can protect our important work as legal professionals for the State of California. Membership forms can be found at calattorneys.org/sign-up.