Leadership Summit attendees are ‘ALL IN’

At this weekend’s Leadership Summit in Eugene, executive officers from more than 90 OSEA chapters committed themselves to a series of chapter membership drives in response to the threat posed by Janus v. AFSCME.

The pending U.S. Supreme Court case could take away our ability to bargain “fair share” agreements with our employers. These agreements give employees an option to either join the union or pay a fee that serves as the employee’s fair share of the costs of union representation. The loss of fair share fees could drastically harm OSEA’s ability to serve and represent its members.

“Like every challenge we have encountered as a union in the past 80 years, we will face this one head on,” OSEA President Tim Stoelb told summit attendees. “Our first step is to declare that the number one priority of OSEA for the next seven months — and beyond — must be maintaining and increasing membership in every OSEA chapter.”

To accomplish that, Stoelb asked attendees to commit to plan, schedule and conduct a chapter membership drive early next year. Chapters were also asked to commit to establishing an effective Worksite Organizer Program and make chapter membership drives an annual occurrence.

On Friday night, summit attendees heard from OSEA General Counsel Mike Tedesco, who gave a legal overview of Janus, while OSEA Executive Director Rick Shidaker explained how losing fair share would financially affect the organization.

Attendees also heard from OSEA’s first female president, Pat Gest. When she joined OSEA almost 50 years ago as an educational assistant, there was no collective bargaining act or fair share. Gest shared how she and her fellow OSEA members at the time helped build the union to what it is today.

On Saturday, AFSCME Iowa Council 61 President Danny Homan told a harrowing story of what can happen when anti-worker legislators take over a state. But he also demonstrated how unions can effectively fight back — by being organized and winning over hearts and minds through one-on-one conversations.

Saturday also included workshops, but much of the day was devoted to planning next year’s membership drives.

“What we’ve done during this summit is an example of ‘A Member’s Union’ in action,” Stoelb said at the end of the day on Saturday. “I know all of you here and the thousands of our members throughout the state of Oregon will stand our ground and we won’t back down.”

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