Today’s Supreme Court Ruling Hurts UIC Grad Workers

The Supreme Court decision today to roll back workers’ rights in Janus vs. AFSCME negatively affects all us who work and study here at UIC. The decision means only the people who sign union membership cards will be paying dues to GEO, even though our union will still be forced to represent non-members.  In this new environment, those who don’t sign membership cards are decreasing all of our collective power to win raises and stronger worker protections.

Big corporations and billionaire-funded anti-worker groups have been pushing for just such a court ruling for a long time. They know that when people aren’t signed up as dues-paying members, unions can’t survive, and then workers lose their rights. It’s an intentional effort to decimate unions by cutting off their financial resources, deceptively called “right to work”—but the more accurate description is “right to work for less.”

Dues are not money our union is “taking” from members. Since our first contract in 2006, we have continuously won raises amounting to a 39 percent increase, while dues have only increased 0.15 percent in the same time period (see attached graph). Dues pay for our indispensable full-time staff, materials for educating and organizing members, events, an office space, and legal services to protect members’ rights. GEO included the cost of dues in the very first raise we won, offsetting the cost of dues forever. But without dues and high membership numbers, we will lose our ability to continue winning higher raises and other benefits going forward.

Janus is modeled after so-called “right to work” private sector laws in 28 states. Because union membership rates have dropped significantly in those states, median household incomes are $8,174 less than in non-right to work states, people under 65 are 46 percent more likely to be uninsured, infant mortality rates are 12 percent higher, and workplace deaths occur 49 percent more often.

Despite these obstacles, those unions in “right to work” states that continue to maintain high membership levels continue to win gains for all of their members.

Make sure you and the other grad workers in your department sign membership cards.  You can email Anne Kirkner:, Dawn Tefft:, or your departmental steward to sign a card or otherwise get involved more in the fight to protect our union. You can also get a list of all the grad workers covered by the contract in your department so you know who needs to sign a membership card.

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