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Newspaper Misleads Readers on "Union Fees"

Julie Bykowicz’s article “Thousands of state workers forced to pay union fees,” that appeared in the July 5th Sun newspaper misrepresented the process that resulted in non-union members making contributions to unions.


The first and most important fact omitted from the Bykowicz article is that the fees now being paid by non-union members are the result of a vote on a union contract—a vote in which non-union state workers participated.  In fact, the majority of those voting on the contract that calls for non-union members to pay fees were non-union members.


No one was forced to pay fees.  The decision to contribute to unions that negotiate contracts from which all workers benefit, was made by both union and non-union members through the democratic process of the vote and majority rule.


Unions distributed descriptions of the new contract to all state workers—both union and non-union members.  In addition, the contract was posted on union websites and union representatives visited state workplaces to explain the terms and conditions the new contract contained—particularly the contribution of a fee for those non-union members who for years have benefited from union negotiated contracts, legislative initiatives, workplace improvements, and salary and benefit negotiations.


Prior to the passage of this new contract, the majority of state workers benefited from union activities, but did not contribute to those efforts from which they benefited.


Maryland’s unions simply did a good job of explaining to state workers how the union’s activities benefited non-union workers.  The majority of the state’s workers understood the union’s explanation and voted to accept the payment of fees.


In response to information provided by AFT-Maryland, the Sun printed a "correction" in its July 6th edition acknowledging that the payment of union fees by non-members is the result of a vote on the contract--a vote in which the majority of participants were non-union state workers.

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