Dues and Budget Considerations

By Business Agent Ric Casilli

     I reported to the April Membership meeting that we not only had a balanced budget in 2007, but realized a surplus for the Local of almost $62,000 with close to a $1.5 million budget. I also presented a 2008 “guideline” budget which, if followed, could realize about a $12,000 surplus at the Local level.
     These monies give us additional reserves in the event we come up “short” in 2009 attempting to transition to the difficult dues structure mandated by the IUE- CWA Merger Agreement of 2000.
      As I stated before, Local 201 was not enthused about the dues structure contained in the 2000 Merger Agreement between the IUE and CWA. Local 201 campaigned against that piece of the Agreement. The “cap”, on the amount of monies that have to be sent by Locals to the International and Member’s Relief Fund (International Strike Fund), is eliminated in Jan. 2009. Also, IUE locals must begin paying into the CWA Defense Fund. The net result is that, in 2009, IUE Locals are facing either huge dues increases or serious shortages of funds, or a mixture of both.
     A secondary complaint of Local 201, and other IUE locals, is that the CWA dues structure is not “flat” like our traditional IUE dues, every member at a location paying the same dues for the same representation. CWA’s dues structure mandates no less then a MINIMUM monthly dues of 2.25 hours of each individual’s pay, thus individuals pay different amounts and those amounts could go up during the year
     National meetings held recently between IUE and CWA representatives over these issues made a couple of things clear.
     First, CWA will not change their fundamental dues structure for the IUE division. They intend to charge IUE locals the same way they charge all their traditional CWA Locals, taking their International portions calculated on each individual’s hourly pay. Any change to that would require a Convention vote which would have little chance of passing.  Thus, IUE Locals will have to deal with the big dues increase or big cuts dilemma.
    CWA informed the IUE locals that many CWA locals elect to charge well above the 2.25 hours pay per month minimum dues required (some up to 3.0 hours pay per month). All monies collected above the 2.25 minimum stay 100% with the Local union.
     Second
, CWA will approve an administrative “option” for IUE Locals, whereas a Local can choose to keep a “flat based” dues (every member of the bargaining unit pays the same) rather than dues being charged differently for each hourly or salaried job rate. This would not change the amount of money sent to the International, but it would allow IUE Locals a traditional flat based dues system as well as freeze members’ dues for the year, maintaining just one annual dues increase.  Dues would be calculated by using the “average” pay rate of all members at a location during the October before each upcoming dues year.
     I am drawing up some proposals for our May 13th Local 201 Full Policy Board Meeting. I will try to address an approximate $330,000 gap ( mostly caused by new mandated dues structure) in funds for Local 201 in 2009, will include assessing a figure higher then the 2.25 hours pay per month minimum required, tapping our local strike fund ( not International Strike Fund), and making some modest cuts. It will include keeping our traditional flat based dues system.
     I would like to get over this hurdle with our proud Local still active and effective on all 3 sides of the CWA triangle: collective bargaining representation, organizing, and political/ community involvement. Some proposals may require Constitutional changes, others may not.  The Local 201 Policy Board and/or Constitution Committee will need to discuss the different proposals and they could come in front of the Membership Meetings any time from May to the end of the year.