A funny thing happens when workers stand up to big and overbearing national unions: they win.
Major news broke this week affecting some 9,000 state workers covered by SEIU 668: the union has come to an official agreement to let union members resign when they wish. This will apply both to the current contract expiring June 30, 2019, and to the new contract that will be valid from 2019 onwards.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Reviewreports:
Last week, Local 668 and the state reached a “side letter” agreement saying that any state employee who is or becomes a member of Local 668 can resign from the union at any time. The agreement supersedes the provisions of the current contract (emphasis added).
It appears SEIU 668 agreed to this new provision following a class-action lawsuit filed against them in January 2019 by three Greensburg workers. The employees—Megan James, William Lester, and Angela Pease—work for Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor and Industry.
The three workers resigned from SEIU 668 in July 2018 after the Janus v. AFSCME ruling, but the union denied their resignations. The union argued that the workers failed to leave within the 15-day resignation window in the 2016-2019 state contract (highlighted below).
James and her co-workers decided to sue SEIU 668 for back dues and the right to resign when they wished, and it looks like their willingness to stand up to the union has paid off. (Note that AFFT member Cisco Molina has also challenged the union on blocking his exit).
As many of our members know, these resignation windows have become a sticking point for government workers across Pennsylvania. After all, if the U.S. Supreme Court says public sector workers cannot be forced to join or pay a union, why shouldn’t they also be able to leave a union at will?
Pennsylvania has nearly 78,000 state workers, with over 58,000 members of a union (that is, 75 percent). And as you can see below, SEIU 668 is one of the largest unions representing state workers.
In short, the SEIU 668 move is a big win for the workers it represents. And if you’re one of them, take note: the freedom to leave is guaranteed in a side agreement that supersedes your current and upcoming contract. So if you still see resignation window language appearing in your new contract, just ignore it—and leave when you want.