Janus Decision has galvanized union members, not destroyed them

Just days after the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Janus v. AFSCME, Mike Messner and his executive board set out on a mission to increase their union membership.

Messner, the president of Local 888 Rutgers University, and executive board member Jodi Virgilio have since turned in more than 6 dozen new member signups in the month following the decision.

The Janus decision allows public employees to stop paying partial union dues, while still being covered under the union-negotiated contract, if they don’t want to be a member of the union. 

“We have more than 1,600 employees covered under the contract,” said Messner. “It was important for us to get out there and have personal conversations with everyone to explain that being a member of the union gives them a voice here at Rutgers University. We are in the process of negotiating a new contract, and with all the members we have signed up we feel that we have a strong voice and will be able to negotiate a fair contract with Rutgers.” 

“Union members felt stimulated by the Janus decision, not beaten,” explained Virgilio. “Really it made my job almost easy. I thought I would have to convince people, but as I was talking to non-members, explaining why they should join the union, other employees nearby would jump in and take over for me encouraging them to join and describing why they were members and what the union has done for them.”

So far, the Local 888 leadership have signed up more than 90% of employees covered under the union contract, but they don’t plan on slowing down. Messner says they won’t rest until they sign up the remaining non-members and reach 100% membership at Rutgers University. 

“The union couldn’t have done this without the help of the Executive Board and Shop Stewards. I am truly grateful for all the help and hard work that the e-board and stewards are doing to sign members up,” Messner said.