This month we submitted our list of the first union members at Berlitz Japan who will be having their monthly union dues deducted directly from their salaries and submitted to the union by the company once per month. This is called a "dues checkoff system".
This is now the fourth employer to enter into a dues checkoff agreement with the union.
While a checkoff agreement of course improves the financial stability of the union, which is an important thing, it also helps union members and union branches win at the bargaining table and in campaigns.
Our experience with checkoff shows that...
1. There are a lot of people out there who think that joining the union is a cumbersome process so making joining and paying dues that much easier wins your branch increased union membership.
2. Many still think that joining the union is a scary prospect or that even if they do join the employer won't bargain with the union. Checkoff lets potential members know that the company recognises the union and its right to exist in the workplace.
3. In universities and schools, dues checkoff is a normal part of life for the unions representing tenured teachers. Our not having checkoff relegates us to the kids' table as a union that does not need to be treated seriously.
4. And talk about being treated seriously; checkoff lets the employer know that union members themselves are serious and are looking at long term representation from the union as opposed to joining only when something bad happens. Checkoff lets the employer know that we are here to stay and can't just be beaten by waiting us out.
Checkoff is important in growing your union, keeping members in, and showing the employer know that they can not treat us lightly.