School workers solid for unions

Evanston’s school unions won’t see significant immediate impact from last week’s Supreme Court ruling in Janus vs AFSCME because few workers have opted out of paying full union dues.

Officials at Evanston School District 65 and Evanston Township High School report that nearly all workers covered by the schools’ unions -- various Illinois Education Association-NEA locals as well as SEIU Local 73 and Operating Engineers Local 399 -- are currently paying full union dues.

Only two of the 1,081 employees covered by D65 unions last year opted to pay their “fair share,” instead of full dues, including one secretary and a custodian who has since left the district, said Raphael Obafemi, chief financial and operations officer.

At ETHS, 14 of 514 union-represented employees opted to pay their fair share, and most of those were cafeteria workers, according to Mary Rodino, chief financial officer.

That situation could change, of course, but school officials say they haven’t seen a rush of employees wishing to change status to escape paying union dues in the wake of the Janus decision.

In the decision, the court ruled that it violates the free speech rights of workers who don't want to be represented by the unions to require them to contribute funds to support the union's collective bargaining activities.

Previous court rulings had held that the non-union members should be exempt from paying money to support union political activities but that they could be compelled to pay the costs associated with contract negotiations and similar union activities.

In contrast, many of the AFSCME-represented workers for the City of Evanston were only paying the fair share portion of union dues, although the city’s firefighters and police seem solid for their unions.

Related story

Supreme Court ruling to hit city worker unions here (6/28/2018)

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