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Big Cuts Coming at MAPE State Public Employee Union

The Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE) plans to slash its 2018 budget and revamp operations in anticipation of the fallout from a case that hasn’t even reached the U.S. Supreme Court—yet.

For Minnesota’s largest state public employee bargaining unit, it’s not a question of if but when the high court takes up the so-called Janus case and strikes down mandatory union fees.

As a result, MAPE will put a proposal before the union’s Delegate Assembly in two weeks to cut $1.4 million–more than 20 percent—from next year’s budget to offset an expected loss of members, dues and fair share fees that could follow a landmark decision.

“This budget was based on unions’ experiences in right-to-work states where membership declines and fair share fees are no longer being collected,” MAPE Statewide Treasurer Michelle Doheny said in a July 26 letter to union members and fee payers.

The pivotal case involves a public employee from Illinois named Mark Janus, who’s asked the high court to restore his First Amendment rights by reversing a 1977 decision (Abood v Board of Education) that established “fair share” union fees for public employees. If the Court takes Janus’ case and he wins, unionized public employees in non-right-to-work states like Illinois and Minnesota will have the right to keep their jobs, even if they do not join or financially support the union.

“This case is expected to require unions like MAPE to represent all their bargaining unit employees without receiving fees to compensate for the costs of representing these non-members,” Doheny states in the letter. “This would deeply undercut MAPE’s financial viability if we don’t make changes.”

The union posted the document on the MAPE website, giving its 14,000 members a heads-up on “significant changes” ahead. The labor organization’s political education fund will get the biggest haircut with a $200,000 budget reduction. But every committee will take a financial hit from the Board of Directors ($50,000) to training ($125,000) to the Delegate Assembly ($70,000). The public employee union has been working on the reorganization plan for more than a year in anticipation of a significant decline in revenue and members in the wake of an adverse ruling in 2018.

“Our focus has put this union in a more financially viable position making a transition like this less extreme than it could have been. Our sound financial planning has left our union without a need for more drastic cuts and the ability to provide each of you with a union focused on growing our strength and membership,” according to Doheny’s letter.

MAPE joins Education Minnesota, the state’s largest public employee union, in taking steps to stem a potentially crippling loss of members and funding if the Janus case moves ahead.  American Experiment recently reported the teachers union has asked its local union representatives to get all 86,000 teachers to sign a “Membership Renewal” form that automatically renews payment of union fees every year unless the teacher remembers to opt out in writing.

Education Minnesota also plans to raise teachers’ annual dues—now roughly $615—by $14 a year in anticipation of the fallout from the Janus case, according to a teacher that contacted American Experiment. The teachers’ union collects about $50 million in revenue a year. President Denise Specht, a former Kindergarten teacher, earns about $200,000 a year and oversees dozens of union employees making between $75,000 and $125,000 a year, according to federal LM-2 filings.

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