Fair Share Fees and Membership Dues

All teaching assistants and graduate assistants at UIC with appointments between 25-67% have a portion of their paycheck deducted to go to the GEO.  Assistants who sign a yellow GEO membership card are considered members, and their deductions are for membership dues.  Assistants who do not sign a yellow membership card are not members, but are still considered to be part of the bargaining unit, and their deduction is a Fair Share fee.  Read the following FAQ for more information about dues and Fair Share fees.

What is Fair Share?

Fair Share is the fee paid by graduate employees in the GEO bargaining unit who are not members of the GEO.  All employees in the bargaining unit pay the same amount whether they are card-signing members of the GEO or not.  Fair Share is based on the idea that all employees in the bargaining unit benefit from the contracts negotiated by union, whether they are members or not, so all employees in the bargaining unit should bear the costs of union representation.  Labor laws in Illinois allows unions to collect Fair Share Fees to pay for these costs.  Fair share is not a membership fee; it is a fee that pays for the costs of contract negotiation, contract implementation, and contract enforcement, all of which benefit all employees in the bargaining unit.

Why doesn’t the GEO just refuse to represent non-members?

As the certified representative of graduate employees at UIC, the GEO is required by law to provide services to all employees in the bargaining unit, whether they are union members or not.

Why should I become a member of the GEO if everyone pays the same amount anyway?

Becoming a member of GEO by signing a yellow membership card gives you more say in the union’s decisions.  Only members can vote on GEO issues like approving the budget, electing the steering committee, and approving actions like a strike.  Non-members who are in the bargaining unit reap the benefits of union representation, but do not get a say in union decisions.  Because both groups pay the same amount either way, it is only to your benefit to sign a card and make your voice heard.

What are the costs of union representation?

The GEO belongs to the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers, and pays dues for these memberships.  Through these memberships, the GEO gains access to resources that strengthen our union, such as the expertise of their staff and strike loan assistance in the event of a strike.  The GEO also has costs related to contract negotiations, work actions, and contract enforcement.

What other expenses do fair share fees and dues pay?

In order to do the day-to-day work of running the union, including planning work actions, handling grievances, and bargaining our contract, the GEO has hired two experienced union organizers whose expertise guides us through these complex tasks.  The GEO staff works in an office space paid for by the GEO.  This office also provides a place for members and leadership to meet for training and planning.  The GEO leadership does NOT earn any money for the work they do – the GEO leadership is made up entirely of volunteers.

How much are Fair Share fees and dues?

Because Fair Share fees and dues are determined on a percentage basis, the exact deduction from each employee’s paycheck will not be the same.  The current deduction percentage is 2.4%.

What has collective bargaining accomplished?

As a result of the GEO’s most recent contract negotiations, graduate employees have won pay raises, higher contributions to health care costs, a guarantee of tuition waivers, a say in tuition differential policy, more transparent appointment procedures, better grievance procedures, and much more.

Are there any circumstances under which one may be exempt from the fee?

According to Illinois laws, there are some cases in which members of the bargaining unit may be declared objectors.  Objectors are typically required to pay an amount equivalent the Fair Share fee to a charity.  If you have questions regarding the process of becoming an objector, please contact the GEO office.

Are Fair Share fees tax deductible?

Fair share fees may be tax deductible.  You should always consult a tax advisor for the most accurate information about what is deductible.

How are Fair Share fees and dues paid?

Fair Share fees and dues are automatically deducted from your paycheck every month.  The university deducts the appropriate amount from your paycheck and remits the  money to the GEO.

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