Why Pay Union Dues? Simple; NO DUES = NO UNION!
Paying the Light Bill
Our union is funded 100% by members. There are no government subsidies. There are no donors. There are only union members running this union and making our own decisions; this means we are the only ones who pay the freight. Our expenses include: staff, rent, internet, phones, printers, office equipment, travel, insurance. We don’t have anything fancy, only necessary expenses. The goal is to someday pay staff the median wage of union members, and currently they work for substantially less. It’s your union. You make the decisions. You pay the costs.
Paying it Forward
Our union makes no distinction between those who just join to support the union and their coworkers, or those who join with an immediate problem; we know that we all need the union, some now, and some in the future. We do expect people to remain in the union though. Without this there will be no one to keep the lights on when you need us in the future, or a new member needs us today. What we all share is the knowledge that this is a labour union, and all the gains, all the benefits, all the grievances that we win go to build the workers movement and make the world of work better for all.
Cheap Dues = More Members. Really?
The union currently (2022) has about 700 members and the dues run from 500 to 5,000 yen per month based on income with a median dues’ payment of about 3,700 yen per month.Keep these numbers in mind. When we started the union, dues were 800 yen, and then to a 1,000 yen in 1996. By the turn of the century there were about 200 dues paying members at any given time. In 2002, there were 220 members paying an average of 2,000 yen per month, before the 2003 dues increase of 3,000 yen per month which stayed in effect until June 2018. The dues increase from 2003 allowed us to invest in staff and other resources which led to an almost doubling of the union membership by the mid 2010s, when the current dues’ structure started to be considered.
The current dues structure increased average dues by about 500 yen for most members, but more importantly took into account the wide difference in annual income between many of our members. This current structure that runs from 500 to 5000 yen per month has allowed to increase our resources even more to a point where we have now broken 700 members per month. The extra money has not only led to an increased investment in staff (there are currently 3 full-time, and 6 varying degrees of part-time staff), it allowed us to put more efforts into workplace activists who in turn have led the way to building the union any further.
For us, the proof is in the pudding. Low dues do not equal increased membership. Our experience proves that reasonable union dues are not what stops people from joining; a stagnating union that does not win continuous improvements for members does. Visible improvements and wins bring new members which further increases our chances at even more improvements.