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The Stewards Handbook - Explaining About Dues

Dues are a touchy topic in any union. And when times are tough, almost any expense can seem burdensome to workers.

Some stewards believe in defusing the issue by raising it first with new workers. They explain how dues are really a good investment rather than a bothersome expense.

  1. In addition to higher wages, union workers enjoy better health insurance, pensions, occupational safety and health, and job security than do unorganized workers.
  2. Far more than unorganized workers, union employees receive fair treatment, rights, dignity, and respect on the job.
  3. NAGE doesn't set the dues. Only delegates to the NAGE National convention, who represent the members, can vote to increase the dues. Local unions can also vote to increase their dues.

What are the dues used for? Lots and lots of things.

  • Negotiating contracts requires research, negotiators, union reps, and field staffers to organize rallies, worksite actions, and press events.
  • Defending members and enforcing contracts requires money for legal help as well as grievance and arbitration expenses.
  • Winning improved legislation and public services by lobbying, research, and testifying at the local, state, and federal level.
  • New member organizing to improve wages and benefits in competing workplaces so our own wages and benefits are not eroded or contracted-out.
  • Education and publications for union programs of all kinds, including newsletters, media campaigns, public relations, and opinion surveys.
  • Office rents, travel, supplies, and administration.
  • Per capita dues paid to SEIU as well as state and local labor federations and councils.
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