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Explaining about dues.

Dues are a touchy topic in any union. And when times are tough, almost any expense can seem burdensome to workers.

Some stewards believe in defusing the issue by raising it first with new workers. They explain how dues are really a good investment rather than a bothersome expense.

1.In addition to higher wages, union workers enjoy better health insurance, pensions, occupational safety and health, and job security than do unorganized workers.
2.Far more than unorganized workers, union employees receive fair treatment, rights, dignity, and respect on the job.
3.SEIU doesn't set the dues. Only delegates to the SEIU International convention, who represent the members, can vote to increase the dues. Local unions can also vote to increase their dues.

What are the dues used for? Lots and lots of things.

  • Negotiating contracts requires research analysts, negotiators, union reps, and field staffers to organize rallies, worksite actions, and press events.
  • Defending members and enforcing contracts requires money for legal help as well as grievance and arbitration expenses.
  • Winning improved legislation and public services by lobbying, research, and testifying at the local, state, and federal level.
  • New member organizing to improve wages and benefits in competing workplaces so our own wages and benefits are not eroded or contracted-out.
  • Occupational safety and health programs. SEIU has gained national recognition for its work on asbestos, bloodborne diseases, and other workplace hazards.
  • Education and publications for union programs of all kinds, including newsletters, media campaigns, public relations, and opinion surveys.
  • Strike, welfare, defense, and other worker funds.
  • Office rents, travel, supplies, and administration.
  • Support for programs on civil and human rights, equal opportunity, senior members, and organizing.
  • Membership in the Change to Win Federation and the Canadian Labour Congress as well as state and local labor federations and councils.

The New Strength Unity Plan

In 1999 International President Andrew L. Stern appointed a special committe to look at the challenges SEIU members and their families face as we head into a new century. Based on an analysis of the growing power of corporations and their influence on politicians, the President's Committee 2000 recommended the adoption of a Unity plan that would build new strength for working families. This Plan included the following seven areas:

  • Building strength through membership unity including the expansion of membership involvement and a major increase in communication and union education.
  • New coordination among SEIU local unions who will work together to develop industry strategies and pool some of their resources in a national Unity Fund fo rjoint strategies and mutual support.
  • Create accountability to each other through the joint setting of high performance standards.
  • Uniting all workers who do the same type of work by bringing into the union many more workers who are in the same industries or do the same kind of work. We also will launch a massive effort to pressure employers not to interfere with workers' freedom to choose a voice at work by forming a union.
  • Holding politicians accountable on issues important to working people by implementing a year-round program to involve members in making public officials listen to working families.
  • More use of technology including the internet.
  • Raising the resources to build new strength through a dues structure that generates the resources necessary to win.

The New Strength Unity Plan was adopted by the local union delegates at the 2000 SEIU Convention.

SEIU's financial statements are published regularly showing where every cent of income has been spent. You can check with your officers for details about your own local union's funding and expenditures.