Information on Union Fees

Every graduate employee covered by the contract (most TAs and GAs) pays 2% of every paycheck to the union regardless of their membership status. Dues are capped at $45 per month. GEO members who are not covered by the contract (RAs, PGAs, Fellows, etc) pay “associate dues” of $3 per month.
The information below is designed to address questions about union fees. If you have additional questions, please call the GEO office at 344-8283 for clarification.

Q: What is “Fair Share”? What are “Dues”?
A: By law, a union is required to represent all employees covered by the contract regardless of their membership status. The law also allows unions to uphold this commitment by ensuring that everyone pays their “fair share” for this representation. Dues, on the other hand, refers to the amount of money that union members pay. In this situation members do not pay any more than non-members. The bottom line is that whether or not you’re a member of the GEO, you’re paying the same amount. But if you join the union, you’ll have a voice in how your money is being spent and in the priorities of the GEO. You’ll be able to discuss and vote on the contract. You’ll also receive regular emails from the GEO informing you about the state of your contract and recent grievance victories that may affect you-so why not join today?
Q: Does fair share/dues outweigh the benefits we have won?
A: No. The health subsidies alone outweigh the dues. Take a look at the chart below or test this yourself:
1) Take your monthly stipend and multiply it by .02. If you are at the top of the pay scale you should cap the amount at $45.
2) Compare that to the health fee subsidies ($51/month in 2004-2005, and $62/month in 2005-2006). This monthly figure comes from the amount of the McKinley subsidy ($178/semester) and the health insurance discount ($50/semester for 2004-2005, $100/semester in 2005-2006) pro-rated over the 9 month academic year.
3) To add icing to the cake you can calculate your pay increase (minimum 3% each year from 2003 to 2006). This wage agreement broke a 2 year wage freeze and has been higher than the “campus salary program.” The 2004-2005 raise for a 50% appointment at the minimum stipend is about $38 per month. This amount is greater for people in higher pay brackets. Furthermore, GEO won a similar raise last year before the union fees were implemented.
Q: What does the representation fee pay for?
A: Running an effective union requires many expenses including staff, office space, computers, office equipment, mailings, supplies, etc. Also, as an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers we pool money together with other locals to pay for legal support, legislative campaigns, trainings for members, and advisors to help us bargain and deal with grievances. Elected officers allocate the GEO’s local budget, and GEO has delegates who help determine how pooled resources are spent. With a financially healthy union we can enforce the contract and gain strength for the next contract fight. A more detailed description of the budget is available here.
Q: Why did GEO members choose a percent deduction instead of a flat fee?
A: The percent deduction was chosen because appointment percentages and stipends are varied across campus. Almost all graduate employee unions in the US charge a percent dues to ensure the fee is not regressive.
Q: Doesn’t a percentage deduction cause an unfair distribution? Will the hard sciences be paying more in dues than humanities TAs?
A: While stipends levels vary between departments this variance is small for the vast majority of graduate employees. For example, based on Spring 2004 data on graduate employee stipends, the average monthly stipend for a Physics TA is $1,426 and the average English TA stipend is $1,477. Dues and fees are assessed on a graduate employees’ gross pay. While Physics TAs have higher pay rates, English TAs tend to work larger TA appointments, often a 67%. The difference in their respective dues levels is negligible.
Q: Who says how the GEO spends money?
A: GEO members elect new officers every year to develop an annual budget. This budget may be viewed by any member by making an appointment with the treasurer. Furthermore, the treasurer gives regular budget reports at General Membership Meetings. You can view the GEO budget online here. You can give feedback on the budget by attending a general membership meeting, talking to a steward in your department, or contacting the GEO office.