How Union Dues Work

If you're a stipend-receiving Ph.D. student in the OHSU School of Medicine, School of Nursing, or School of Public Health, then you are covered by the GRU contract. However, once you register with AFSCME to start paying union dues, you become an active GRU member.

Being a member of GRU has several perks, including being able to run for a leadership position and attend meetings where key votes are held, but the most important aspect is the feeling of solidarity as you know your dues are being used to help grow not just GRU, but aspiring and like-minded unions across your community!

So how do dues actually work? Below are some slides created and presented by founding GRU Secretary-Treasurer Scotty Farley that help break it all down:

Once you register to become an active member, OHSU will start withholding 1.44% of each paycheck as union dues (the actual amount is school-dependent, but less than $20). If you elected to make AFSCME PEOPLE contributions, which go to their political action committee that supports pro-labor campaigns, those will also get taken out.

All of that money and the paperwork to go with it gets sent by OHSU to AFSCME Council 75 aka Oregon AFSCME. They keep 42% of it, which they use to support their many Oregon labor unions as well as the formation of new Oregon labor unions. Without their help funded by dues like this, GRU would never have been formed.

Oregon AFSCME then sends 37% of the dues to National AFSCME, which uses it for bigger-picture projects in the labor movement. Finally, we receive the remaining 21% of the dues for our own GRU needs.

How GRU spends and saves its dues can and will change over time, but the general priorities will likely remain the same, which include legal fees, resource funds, and operations.

Saving for future legal fees is important because it costs $300 to file an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) with the labor relations board, and so we strive to have three ULPs worth of funds saved up to be ready to file when needed. We also plan to save money for arbitration, the incredibly expensive process that occurs when we are unable to resolve any grievance internally with OHSU. The "loser" in arbitration has to pay all of the arbitration fees, so we are only likely to pursue arbitration in cases where we are strongly confident in success, however it is good practice to have some money saved up for arbitration fees just in case.

We also use GRU dues to fill resource funds that can be drawn upon by GRU members. The two planned funds are the Hardship fund and the Antiracism fund, each of which we are planning to keep topped off at $5000. More information on these funds will be available soon, as they are still in development.

Finally, the rest of the dues we use for operational costs with the day-to-day running of the union. Since we have a relatively small union, these costs are pretty low comparatively and are used for event planning and catering, subscriptions for services like Zoom, putting up bulletin boards, etc. These costs are likely to change as things become more in-person again.

So those are the basics of your GRU union dues! If you're not currently an active member but are inspired to become one, follow this link to register today! (Remember: we're AFSCME Local 402). If you have any other questions about GRU dues, please reach out at either [email protected] or [email protected].