Union at Fed job

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Vol
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Union at Fed job

Post by Vol » Mon Aug 20, 2018 8:44 pm

Hi y'all. I just started a federal job. At lunch, union people, AFGE, fed us lunch and invited us to join. I am so lost. Why should I join? They take money directly out of your paycheck. For what? Is it worth it? :sharebeer

123
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Re: Union at Fed job

Post by 123 » Mon Aug 20, 2018 8:49 pm

Collective efforts can accomplish a lot, particularly at a large employer. Unions still play a significant role in many governement organizations. The union will likely tell you that the government is a large organization and it might be helpful sometime to have someone else on your side. They might be right.
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.

Madbull
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Re: Union at Fed job

Post by Madbull » Mon Aug 20, 2018 9:49 pm

I’m not Fed, but a local county civilian employee. I’m also covered by civil service despite not being sworn. Despite the ‘protections’ civil service can offer, I still happily participate in AFSCME. While I wouldn’t feel comfortable using them as a rep for any disciplinary grievances, (heaven forbid), I value them for their weight in representing the county employees as a whole when it comes to budgetary issues each year.

For example, the last few months they have been working with the county’s PBO to convince them to push to the court a better COLA this upcoming FY. PBO initially recommended a 2%. Due to AFSCME, there are now other options being presented to the court:

A) a 2% to all employees (original PBO recommendation)
B) a 2% to all employees who make OVER $60k, with any employees making LESS than $60k getting a $1,200/yr increase. (Much better for the lower pay grade employees).
C) a 2.5% to all employees, (matching what the city employees are getting). Those under $x/year would get a flat amount like above, just can’t recall the cutoff amount).

They also worked with the county’s benefits department to ensure no copay or premium increases this upcoming year. (Originally they were leaning towards no premium increases, but copays going up by $5 in each category.

Their weight with the county on matters like those, which have a direct impact on me, are worth a few bucks each pay period to me.

*Caveat - if the union didnt have a good rapport, I would drop them in a heartbeat.

suemarkp
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Re: Union at Fed job

Post by suemarkp » Mon Aug 20, 2018 9:57 pm

Do you benefit from their bargaining whether you're a member or not?
Do you like what they are pushing for (ask employees that have been there a long time)?
Do you want to have input on what they push for?
Do they provide data that isn't otherwise available (salary curves, layoff information, optimizing the retirement process)?
Do they have a good record of helping people (grievances) when they have been wronged (I don't like it when unions stand up for people that should be fired, but bureaucracies can steamroll the innocent little guy)?
Does the monthly cost seem worth it (especially if they bargain for you and you like what they push for so you're otherwise freeloading)?

I'm generally anti union, but have been a member of a union my entire real career. I liked the union better when it was voluntary, but now you have to pay for their "services" whether you like it or not. Dues have also gone higher than I like, but much less than my wife's who is in a teachers union.
Mark | Kent, WA

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munemaker
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Re: Union at Fed job

Post by munemaker » Mon Aug 20, 2018 10:11 pm

I have worked on the management side of several manufacturing companies that had unionized workforces. They tended to make the operation inefficient and worked against the interest of the shareholders. Because of that experience, I am not a fan of unions. I also do not like that they take members' dues and use them for political purposes; after all, there are union members that belong to both parties.

Maybe it is different in the public sector.

Madbull
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Re: Union at Fed job

Post by Madbull » Mon Aug 20, 2018 10:18 pm

munemaker wrote:
Mon Aug 20, 2018 10:11 pm
.... I also do not like that they take members' dues and use them for political purposes; after all, there are union members that belong to both parties.

Maybe it is different in the public sector.
At least for AFSCME (State, County & Municipal), they have ‘standard/membership’ dues, and separate, (and optional), PAC dues. The two funds ‘should’ never be commingled. I refuse to put money into the PAC.

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Jerry55
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Re: Union at Fed job

Post by Jerry55 » Mon Aug 20, 2018 10:36 pm

munemaker wrote:
Mon Aug 20, 2018 10:11 pm
I have worked on the management side of several manufacturing companies that had unionized workforces. They tended to make the operation inefficient and worked against the interest of the shareholders. Because of that experience, I am not a fan of unions. I also do not like that they take members' dues and use them for political purposes; after all, there are union members that belong to both parties.

Maybe it is different in the public sector.
I've been a union member for 32 years, and a Union Rep for 30 of those years. There are many people who don't understand Federal Unions and their purposes, and here's a classic example of misinformation. I retired in 2012 from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and as stated above by another poster, it's illegal to use dues money for political purposes, hence the reason for PACs (Political Action Committees)
It is true that federal law and some state laws prohibit unions from using dues dollars to make contributions to political campaigns. That's why unions have political action committees (PAC). ... They are highly skilled, highly paid political operatives. Their salaries, benefits and expenses are paid by the unions.
While it's true that Federal employees, if represented by a union benefits whether a member or not, it's a personal choice. There are many who will gladly take the benefits freely, without having to help pay for those benefits. If you are one of them, feel free to do so. There are names for people like that, but I digress.

Like the poster above said, it does not benefit "The Shareholder"....take that statement for what it's worth.
Another poster said that "Unions waste time, etc" (and I'm paraphrasing), but like I've told my supervisors over the decades....
"As a Union Representative, I cause no actions....I am the REACTION to what you have done"
Retired CSRS on 12/19/2012 @ age 57 w/39 years | Good Bye Tension, Hello Pension !!!

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theduke
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Re: Union at Fed job

Post by theduke » Mon Aug 20, 2018 10:44 pm

I'm a retired federal worker. I would suggest you take your time to decide. Don't be pressured to join, you can later on, if you choose too.

CnC
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Re: Union at Fed job

Post by CnC » Tue Aug 21, 2018 12:03 am

This seems awfully political for here I'm sure it will be locked.



Here is an unbiased opinion. Look at what your benefits are for being in the union and look at what they are for not being in the union.

That's it. Will your wages go from self negotiation to collective. Will that help or hurt you. Will your lack of seniority in the union cause you to be first laid off or will the union protect you from layoffs?

Forget politics guys, he isn't asking if him joining the union will make the world a better place or not. This is a financial forum. Let's give financial advice.

chinchin
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Re: Union at Fed job

Post by chinchin » Tue Aug 21, 2018 1:23 am

Did you know the President and the House are proposing a pay freeze? Do you care? Do you want someone lobbying on your behalf?

strafe
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Re: Union at Fed job

Post by strafe » Tue Aug 21, 2018 5:48 am

Vol wrote:
Mon Aug 20, 2018 8:44 pm
Hi y'all. I just started a federal job. At lunch, union people, AFGE, fed us lunch and invited us to join. I am so lost. Why should I join? They take money directly out of your paycheck. For what? Is it worth it? :sharebeer
They want you to join because they want your dues money. The dues will be used for political activities that you may or may not agree with. It is historically difficult to “opt out” once you have joined.

z3r0c00l
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Re: Union at Fed job

Post by z3r0c00l » Tue Aug 21, 2018 6:16 am

Across several industries, and in my life as a customer and citizen, every single ongoing relationship I have had with unions and union employees have been poor. The employees are seemingly forced to greatly reduce their responsiveness and output by the union, or perhaps they always wanted to do that and the union finally gives them the coverage to justify it. Either way, and particularly at my workplace where I can see this most clearly, I would never join the union unless it was required for my job. And then, I would resent it. Union workers who try to take on extra work, show some initiative, branch out, are generally scolded for doing so.

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Oak&Elm
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Re: Union at Fed job

Post by Oak&Elm » Tue Aug 21, 2018 6:56 am

I can't speak about your public Union but I can tell you being in a private Union (IBEW) for the past 34 years has been wonderful. Great pay and benefits, if I could go back and do it over I wouldn't change a thing. I'm well aware of the downside of some unions but the positives far outweigh the negatives.

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bottlecap
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Re: Union at Fed job

Post by bottlecap » Tue Aug 21, 2018 7:23 am

Only you can decide. I don’t know why you are confused. They take your money and promise to negotiate better pay and benefits on your behalf.

People who love unions love them. People who don’t, don’t. Sometimes the reasons for one opinion or another are real. Sometimes they are imagined. Sometimes they are philosophical. Sometimes they are self-interested.

You will have to decide on your own and see what the union does to see whether it’s worth it. As someone else suggested, you can take your time investigating.

Good luck,

JT

carolinaman
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Re: Union at Fed job

Post by carolinaman » Tue Aug 21, 2018 7:35 am

Generally I am anti union. My first job was with a megacorp in a professional position. Unskilled union workers negatively impacted the company and were a major reason for the bankruptcy years after I left the company. I played on a softball team with a lot of those guys and their view of work was foreign to me. They were irresponsible and thought nothing of taking sick days to go fishing or whatever. They thought they worked for the union not the company.

There was a time when unions were very necessary and did a lot of good. However, today a lot has changed with all the government regulations and policies, their need is questionable at best. The demise of unions really began with globalization. Companies have difficulty competing globally when heavily unionized.

I think you are the only one who can decide if there is value in being unionized, but since your pay and benefits will be the same regardless, there may not be any significant union benefits.

feehater
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Re: Union at Fed job

Post by feehater » Tue Aug 21, 2018 7:58 am

Despite what multiple posters have said, unions haven't been able to require dues for political activities since the Abood Supreme Court decision in 1977.

On a more practical level, you will be represented by this union whether you join or not. You might save some money by not joining, but the the negotiating committee will be elected by only the members, and the contract ratified by only them. They theoretically are required to represent your interests anyway, but in practice they might care more about the views of their voting (and paying) members. I have seen union shops in right to work states where a subset of the bargaining unit had outsized representation in the union because they were the only ones who bothered to participate, and their interests were the ones that took priority in negotiations.

Yooper16
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Re: Union at Fed job

Post by Yooper16 » Tue Aug 21, 2018 8:48 am

Spouse is a retired rural letter carrier. One big benefit in our case, was the insurance package available only to union members.

Our dues were, if I remember correctly were 25 ish per pay period. Adding that back into the insurance premium, we were still $100 or so below a Blue Cross/Shield policy.

According to Consumer Checkbook, it was #1 or 2 in costs to benefits. Not a high deductible(700 for family) and lower in monthly premiums than almost every other plan available and not an HMO. Even had a small dental payment and covered massage.

So, there may be additional benefits are not standard benefits.

SagaciousTraveler
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Re: Union at Fed job

Post by SagaciousTraveler » Tue Aug 21, 2018 8:54 am

Work for the DOD but do not pay dues to the Union.

I looked at what was important to me, took in my surroundings (co workers, work environment), looked at the Union mission and their representatives that were around me and educated myself about the current government. After all that i decided the Union wasn't meant for me at this current time.

I think its always easy to default an answer but if its really important to you, do your due diligence. Just know factors can change, so keep reassessing.

Thanks.

RCL
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Re: Union at Fed job

Post by RCL » Tue Aug 21, 2018 9:54 am

Time to lock this thread?!!
It Is Best To Consult Others Before Taking Unusual Actions

adamthesmythe
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Re: Union at Fed job

Post by adamthesmythe » Tue Aug 21, 2018 1:12 pm

munemaker wrote:
Mon Aug 20, 2018 10:11 pm
I have worked on the management side of several manufacturing companies that had unionized workforces. They tended to make the operation inefficient and worked against the interest of the shareholders. Because of that experience, I am not a fan of unions. I also do not like that they take members' dues and use them for political purposes; after all, there are union members that belong to both parties.

Maybe it is different in the public sector.
The balance of power between unions and management has dramatically shifted over the years. I would have agreed with this viewpoint back in 1980. Now things are different. In government jobs civil service protections are being curtailed. Unions will no longer have offices for easy access by members. Terminations will be faster and easier.

I would expect that at some point OP will want to understand what his rights are and how to deal with difficult managers (because he will almost certainly have one at some point).

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LadyGeek
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Re: Union at Fed job

Post by LadyGeek » Tue Aug 21, 2018 4:00 pm

I removed several off-topic posts and replies, the discussion was derailed. This thread has run its course and is locked (contentious, politics). See: Non-actionable (Trolling) Topics
If readers can't do anything with the content of a topic other than argue about it, it does not belong here. Examples include:
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This thread is now in the Personal Finance (Not Investing) forum (employment issue).
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