Union service fees for all teachers would have to be negotiated

By Len Lazarick


Service fees for representation by teachers unions in over half of Maryland’s counties would have to be negotiated under a bill that passed the House of Delegates last week and has a Senate hearing Tuesday. The fees would have to be paid by non-union members for  bargaining and other services provided by the unions.

Similar service fees are authorized at the state’s public four-year colleges and universities by bills that have passed in each house. But most university employees, including administrators and faculty, are not currently covered by collective bargaining units.

The service fees known as “fair share’’ are already in effect in 10 of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions, including the largest counties, and 79% of teachers are already covered, according to Del. Anne Kaiser, D-Montgomery, the floor leader on the bill, HB667.

The fees are generally lower than full union dues, but typically amount to several hundred dollars a year. State employees in collective bargaining units must now pay “fair share’’ service fees.

Republicans oppose mandatory fees

Republicans from counties that do not charge union fees to non-members resisted the measure. “I believe it’s a real mistake,” said Del. Justin Ready, R-Carroll. He offered amendments to make the negotiations optional and exempt teachers who want to negotiate their contracts directly with the school board. Both were defeated.

Ready noted that the 48 co-sponsors on the legislation all came from counties that already had the service fees imposed. (UPDATE: Two Democratic co-sponsors, Del. Galen Clagett of Frederick and Del. Rudy Cane of Wicomico, represent counties that do not currently have union service fees.)

Calling it a “tax on teachers,” Ready said the bill is forcing them to “do something they don’t want to.”

“This bill will erode that local control” that is traditional on the Eastern Shore, said Del. Addie Eckardt, R-Talbot.

Kaiser insisted “this bill is about leveling the playing field” and only “mandates a discussion” of the service fees during contract negotiations. It does not automatically impose the fees.

Several other Republican delegates offered amendments to lessen the impact on teachers who do not belong to a union, but all were defeated on party line votes.

The measure passed the House 95-43, with three Democrats joining 40 Republicans in opposition; two Republicans, Dels. Bob Costa and NicKipke of Anne Arundel, voted for the bill.

About The Author

Len Lazarick


Len Lazarick was the founding editor and publisher of MarylandReporter.com and is currently the president of its nonprofit corporation and chairman of its board He was formerly the State House bureau chief of the daily Baltimore Examiner from its start in April 2006 to its demise in February 2009. He was a copy editor on the national desk of the Washington Post for eight years before that, and has spent decades covering Maryland politics and government.


  1. iamacitizen

    It’s seems outside organizations are being allowed to basically exploit the lowest-paid and least-powerful State government employees as a reward for their support of certain political candidates. Maryland law does not permit any State employee to “bargain” or “negotiate” better wages, benefits and working conditions. At most, the employees may express concerns and suggest alternatives with respect to management-level decisions affecting their jobs. Other established State law already accords the employees the right to do this absolutely free-of-charge. Where are the organizations who’s mission is to protect woman and minorities from disparate treatment in the workplace? Do they understand who represents the lowest-paid and least-powerful State workers and that any benefit (e.g., a salary increase) derived from so-called collective bargaining is equally applied to all other higher-level workers who DO NOT pay a “fair share” to these unions? And, no fiscal impact? I thought a substantial percentage of these “membership” dues (MD dollars) flows to out-of-State union affiliates? Most importantly, how can State and union officials claim a procedure is legitimate when the vast majority of employees never requested it, recognize it as nothing more than a “paper tiger”, and have chosen to ignore it rather than participate? (FYI: This comment doesn’t apply to the FOP or protective service employees.)

  2. hungrypirana

    “Kaiser insisted [her bill] only “mandates a discussion” of the service fees during contract negotiations. It does not
    automatically impose the fees.”

    Is she some sort of a child, playing with the words while ignoring their substance?

    Kaiser’s bill requires fees to be negotiated and withheld from non-union workers’ wages. Her bill in substance, in fact, and by law, would impose fees.

    Eckardt is correct that this bill would erode local control, but the bill also must be defeated because it arbitrarily and capriciously diverts wages from non-union workers.

  3. joe

    Only in Maryland!

    The non-union teachers could form the non-union teachers union and negotiate directly with the various affected counties.

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