The Legislature approved mandatory fees on non-union members who benefit from union services, like collective bargaining and representation in grievances, and reneged in particular on a 1998 promise to about 500 state employees not to impose such fees.
The legislation, S.14, requires an estimated 2,600 education, state and municipal employees who aren’t union members to pay fees of up to 85 percent of yearly union dues.
Backers of the bill argued that those who benefit without paying were freeloading, labeling such fees “fair share fees.” Critics said the state shouldn’t betray its 1998 promise, adding that poorer workers can ill-afford the fees, which could come to $400 or more annually.
Under the legislation, money collected from agency fees must go toward lowering union dues. Those targeted by the fees can ask for an audited financial statement of the union’s expenses.
It’s unclear how unions will enforce the collection of these fees, but one provision notes that how to enforce collection fees will be a subject determined at the collective bargaining table.
Lawmakers also mandated a study, due in January 2014, on a potential merit pay system for teachers and other education workers in Vermont. Agency fee provisions will take effect when the next collective union-state contracts are signed.