WHAT IS A FAIR-SHARE FEE PAYER?
There is a lot of confusion as to what a fair-share fee payer actually is. Under California public employment laws, a fair-share fee payer is a person who elects not to be a union member even though that person is in the bargaining unit and under the collective bargaining agreement administered by the union. Fair-share fee payers are required to pay a portion of the dues of active members. Unions are allowed to set a “fair-share” such that non-members are required to pay an amount related to the costs incurred by the union for negotiation of the collective bargaining agreement and contract maintenance. Most unions charge fair-share fee payers 60% to 90% of the union dues of active members.
Most California public employee collective bargaining agreements contain an “agency shop” or “closed shop” clause in the collective bargaining agreement. Agency shop clauses state that all employees in the bargaining unit are required to either be active members of the union or fair-share fee payers in order to be employed by the public agency employer. Fair-share fee payers usually lose most privileges of union membership, such as voting for union leadership, as well as access to most union resources, including representation for individual disciplinary matters or personnel issues. Critics of agency shop clauses argue that employees have no choice as to whether to belong to the union or not especially since fair-share fee payers often pay almost as much as active union members.
Teacher Guardian provides an option for California teachers that choose to be fair-share fee payers but want the security of knowing that they have access to labor and legal representation for their individual needs. A typical California fair-share fee payer may pay anywhere between $500-800 (as opposed to the $850-1,200 in active member union dues). By re-allocating the fair-share fee payer “savings” partly towards a Teacher Guardian membership, California teachers can ensure they have representation available whenever they need it.