The costs of being a member pale in comparison to the benefits. We understand, however, that many faculty struggle to make ends meet on state university salaries (and UNF’s salaries are some of the lowest in the State University System–an issue that we have been diligently working to solve).
The cost to join the union is 1% of your pre-tax base salary (nine month). This means that for tax purposes, one’s annual salary is effectively reduced by 1%. Union dues are not deducted from summer pay or from additional university income (e.g., overloads or supplemental assignments). A standard rate (percentage of base salary) for union dues is standard practice; it is more equitable than a flat rate in that it allows for low-paid employees to join the union while not unduly stressing more highly paid employees.
For the average UNF tenure-line faculty member, total union dues equate to about $650-$700 per year. While this may seem costly, union dues equate to about $4 per working day for nine-months or $3.25 per working day (i.e., excluding weekends and public holidays) were you to include one summer term–in other words, about the same price per day as a cup of coffee.
Roughly 10-15% of one’s union dues come back to the local chapter. Our chapter operates very frugally and relies solely upon faculty volunteers to conduct our work. No one at the chapter level is paid for their work (the union does offer one course release per semester for the officers and bargaining team members who assume the most labor-intensive positions). The bulk of members’ dues go to the state and national organizations where they are used for myriad purposes that all serve Florida faculty.
There are many benefits to being a union member in addition to the piece of mind that comes from being part of a group that fights for social justice, for intellectual and academic freedom, for faculty control over curricula, and for genuine student learning over the ‘student-as-consumer’ model of education that is increasingly influencing today’s colleges and universities. The practical benefits of membership include:
- working with a group of like-minded colleagues (you are not alone)
- chapter and state representation for grievances if your faculty rights are violated
- free legal referral services for non-labor-related issues
- classroom/teaching liability insurance
- experienced legal representation for unfair labor practices or wrongful dismissal
- free & experienced advice on promotion and tenure issues at UNF
- updates from the NEA and AFT on issues important to faculty
- lobbying state and national legislators on behalf of faculty rights
- special offers on credit cards; personal loans; life, health, dismemberment, and disability insurance