Why are union members now paying dues directly, rather than through payroll deduction?
Under Act 10, the infamous anti-union legislation introduced by Scott Walker, members are prohibited from paying union dues through payroll deduction, a system that has been in place for decades. This is a blatant attempt to strangle our union by cutting off resources. Members are choosing to pay dues through credit card or bank draft, and continue their union membership so that we can defeat Walker’s extremist agenda and take back our Wisconsin.
Why should I pay dues now? Times are tight, and we can’t even bargain a contract.
As a labor movement, traditional collective bargaining has become our favorite tool, and a tool that we’ve depended on over the years. But before collective bargaining was “allowed” by law, the labor movement won some of its greatest advances using other means. Now we need to dust off some of those other tools: organizing, political mobilization, public relations, legal strategy, lobbying, and most importantly, our collective voice. We can’t bargain a contract right now, but we will win that right back if we mobilize in other ways.
It’s true that times are tight – Scott Walker has seen to that through immediate and unprecedented increases in employee contributions to health care and retirement benefits. What’s more, job growth under Walker has been stagnant, and his budget will cost Wisconsin thousands of jobs while giving tax breaks to millionaires. How can we make that ground back up? The only way is to work through our union—to continue our impressive momentum in the court of public opinion so we can get a more fair deal from our employers, and to eventually win back our collective bargaining rights. To achieve those goals, we’re all going to have to work for it together.
Can we really reach these goals?
Our goals are within reach, and we’ve already had some important victories. Consider the following:
Walker intended to have Act 10 signed, sealed, and delivered in the course of one week. Instead, we had four months to react, regroup, and plan for the future.
Our recent slew of primary victories—and the resounding failure of Walker’s forces to recall labor advocate State Sen. David Hansen—have set the stage for us to take back the state senate in August and start fixing the damage Scott Walker has done.
Ending sick leave conversion, privatizing our pension system, and contracting out even more of jobs are all well-known components of Walker's agenda. Yet, Walker backed off these items in the biennial budget.
These victories are no accident. They are the result of unprecedented solidarity among union members and the public support we’ve earned—more than 100,000 engaged in peaceful protest, 75% of our fellow citizens supporting collective bargaining rights, millions around the world taking inspiration from our struggle.
How can I pay dues and continue my union membership?
You can pay dues once a month via bank draft or credit/debit card (WPEC members can also pay monthly, quarterly, or yearly via check). To sign up, visit www.aft-wisconsin.org and click on the drop-down menu to select your local union. You’ll be redirected to a secure website where you can sign up to continue your membership and stand strong with your union.
What will dues money be spent on?
Two words: The Fight. Dues will be spent on programs and staff that organize, mobilize, and communicate with members around legislation and elections; build and strengthen our union’s membership; build on the public’s favorable views of public employees; and lobby for policies that enhance Wisconsin’s public service.
The sign-up form gives the option to contribute to “COPE.” What is that?
COPE, or the Committee On Political Education, is AFT-Wisconsin’s political action arm. The COPE board, made up of AFT-W activists from around the state, makes endorsements in elections based on voting records, questionnaires, and candidate interviews. Once approved by the AFT-W Executive Board, candidate contributions are made from the COPE fund. It’s important to note that no candidate contributions are ever funded by dues money—they all come from the voluntary COPE fund.
Please consider adding a COPE contribution to your monthly dues payment. A number of members have found it convenient to round up their dues payment to the next ten dollar mark, and contribute the difference to COPE. However much you can commit to give, your contribution will help build our political strength—and our power to take back our state.