Delaware Public Media

Janus v. AFSCME ruling impacts Delaware teachers

Jul 2, 2018

Last week’s Supreme Court ruling prohibiting public sector unions from collecting so-called “fair share” fees will affect unions in the First State.



Mike Matthews, president of the Delaware State Education Association, says the union representing teachers, cafeteria staff, bus drivers and other public school employees across the First State has historically charged “fair-share” fees that are about 70 percent of full union membership dues, varying by school district.


But the paycheck public school employees get Friday won’t have fair-share fees deducted.

That’s thanks to last week’s Janus v. AFSCME ruling that says public sector unions can’t charge non-union members a fee meant to cover the benefit they get from union negotiations.

Matthews says DSEA has about 87 percent membership participation.

“We have a staff of about 24 to 25 people. And those resources come from our members’ dues. And those folks work directly with our members to work on issues in their school districts. Those folks work to provide professional development," he said. "[And] we have member benefits.”

Matthews says that while the ruling is disappointing, DSEA is confident its strong membership base will continue to support the union—and opt in to membership dues despite the fact that opting out has become much cheaper.

Sussex County Councilman Rob Arlett considers the Supreme Court ruling a victory for worker choice.

“If the union is providing a value, and somebody wants to pay a fee to receive that value, that should be optional.”

Arlett, who is also running for U.S. Senate, introduced a right-to-work ordinance in Sussex County last fall.

It would have prohibited making union membership a condition of employment or requiring workers to pay union dues.

County Council rejected the measure, and similar efforts statewide were invalidated by a bill passed by the General Assembly in June.  It allows Delaware’s private sector unions to enter into agreements to the full extent allowed under federal law—which for now includes collecting fair-share fees.

Arlett called that move by state lawmakers "disappointing" —saying the General Assembly should be doing everything in its power to bolster Delaware’s economy.