Last year, the Society adopted a new dues structure for all locals that joined the Society after April 1, 2017. The new structure is all employees paying dues equal to 1% of their salary. At the time that constitutional amendment was adopted, some members – especially those at the Ontario Energy Board Local – expressed a strong desire to move to the percentage dues model. While the OEB Local has been with the Society for many years, it is among the newer locals and was the first so-called “wall-to-wall” local, where the Society represents every single non-excluded employee in the organization and therefore members have a wide range of salaries. This proposed amendment responds to members’ requests for an equitable dues structure without forcing all locals into this new system.
Additionally, in the 2018 amendment there was a maximum – the flat dues amount – placed on the dues a member would pay if their local uses the percentage dues model. Upon reflection, this was an oversight that threatens the long-term financial viability of the union and could not be sustained if other locals choose the percentage dues model. However, 1% of salary for all members of a local – with some paying a little less or a little more than they do in the flat dues system – is revenue neutral. The proposed amendment removes the cap on the percentage dues model.
It may also be helpful for you to think about this proposed amendment in the context of how other unions operate and the Society’s history. The vast majority of unions who represent employees in traditional employment relationships use percentage based dues because they are an equitable way to ensure everyone pays their fair share. The Society’s flat dues model was instituted when we were a voluntary association that had to collect its own dues rather than having them remitted automatically by our members’ employers as they are today. This model has been maintained as Society members have historically had a relatively narrow range of salaries so the inequity of the lowest paid member and the highest paid member paying identical dues was acceptable. As the Society organizes new members, there is a much wider range of salaries in our union and it is no longer fair to expect everyone to pay the same amount. That’s why in the 2018 referendum Society members voted to use a percentage based dues model for all locals created after April 1, 2017.