BA Casilli: Serious National Dues Issues to Hurt IUE-CWA Locals

BA Column
(Local 201 News, 1/15/08)
By Ric Casilli

     I need to inform our members of a very serious problem on the horizon for 2009. When IUE merged with CWA back in 2001, IUE Locals kept in tact much of the IUE's flat rate dues structure and the amount of dues monies that were sent to the International unions were capped at reasonable rates. However, the Merger agreement signed between IUE and CWA has the “CAP” ending in 2009 and calls for IUE-CWA Locals to have members’ dues, at a minimum, equal to 2 ¼ hours pay per month. At the time of the merger in 2001, Local 201 raised big concerns about the dues part of the merger agreement. We were assured that no Locals would be hurt and members would not face huge increases.
      The implementation of the current agreement would mean a 2009 dues increase for about 50% of our members, with the higher rated classifications paying the most. What is more significant is what the elimination of the “CAP” means in terms of what percent of dues monies stay with the Local. Despite more gross amounts of local dues being collected, Local 201 would retain approximately $269,000 less in 2009 then 2008!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It would cause both massive cuts and a major dues increase. That is not acceptable!
     Local 201 has struggled with budgets over the years, both reasonably raising dues and making the responsible cuts necessary to balance budgets. Our budgets have been balanced now for quite a few years. However, this plan currently being mandated is unworkable if you want a functioning activist progressive union
     How do you take that much money out of a Local’s budget and expect it to function effectively in the 3 areas of the CWA Triangle- collective bargaining, organizing and political/community action???? It is not going to happen. How does one justify the fact that while the Local loses approximately $269,000 annually, the monies leaving the Local increase by approximately $335,000 ( going to the CWA International, Member’s Relief Fund, and Members Defense Fund)??????
     In my opinion, this plan will kill many IUE-CWA Locals with either huge dues increases, major losses of income or a mixture of both. I believe this was not a well thought out dues plan, ill advised and done in the hastiness of the necessity of getting a major merger agreement accomplished before the IUE went bankrupt.  
     It needs to be re-visited and immediately. Otherwise, the negative ramifications will be overwhelming.