CSEA and AEU have reached a tentative agreement on a new successor contract. The contract has a new 3-year term with reopeners in the 2nd and 3rd years on salary only. CSEA’s initial proposal provided for no change in the contract except for a new term. AEU had opened a handful of articles with a priority of securing language changes in such areas as donated sick leave and transfer. Several positive changes in the contract were in fact made that should assist in securing labor peace during the term of the contract.
The parties did reach an agreement on a 2% one-time salary payment that will not be placed on the salary schedule. CSEA will continue to pick up all pension and benefits costs over the term of the agreement. Employee contributions to health care remain in place, and no modification to the pension or retiree medical were made.
Janus vs. AFSCME has already been rejected by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and is positioned for appeal to the Supreme Court. The President of the RTWF has publicly stated that “We are just basically one step away from having the (U.S.) Supreme Court agree that compulsory union dues or fees in the government sector are a violation of First Amendment speech rights” and “if that’s the case, then what we get is a right-to-work law for every government employee in America.” CSEA is faced with the reality that the right to collect service fees is likely to be eliminated within CSEA’s next fiscal year. The impact of an adverse decision will be swift and significant.
The elimination of service fees will result in an immediate $7.69 million loss in revenue. Based on research and polling, an additional $15.7 million loss in revenue is projected as members exercise their right to drop CSEA membership. Therefore, CSEA must be prepared to address and absorb a $23.39 million loss in revenue.
The Board of Directors is sensitive to the challenge of asking CSEA members, many of whom are struggling on a day-to-day basis, to vote to increase their dues. This is not a decision the members will take lightly and CSEA must be prepared for the possibility that they may elect to leave the current dues structure unchanged. Therefore, CSEA has submitted a second budget in the event the delegates do not pass the Dues Fairness Resolution. This budget proposes a 10% reduction in revenue ($6.8 million), primarily through elimination of 33 CSEA positions, including 20 Labor Relations Representative positions. This budget would be balanced for the budget year only. As the full impact of a negative court decision is fully realized, and more members drop, more cuts are likely to be required. CSEA’s initial successor contract proposal is harmonized with the external threats facing our union, the proactive steps the CSEA Board is taking and our goal of insuring the long-term financial wellbeing and security of CSEA members and staff.
CSEA appreciates and values the work of our staff. Several generations of CSEA staff have worked full careers, raised families and retired with a secure pension. To ensure this future for employees hired today CSEA must continue to effectively manage limited membership growth and growing costs while at the same time preparing for a possible significant decline in revenue. Our intent throughout the collective bargaining process is to ensure that the organization’s ability to continue providing the advocacy, organizing and representational expertise that empowers classified workers to improve their lives is enhanced not just during the term of this contract, but for many years to come.