Teri Cusumano shares details of a new proposal the Family and Membership Committee will be presenting to the membership at the General Membership Meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 29th.
For the last nine months, I have been on maternity leave. Although I had to step away from work temporarily in order to adequately care for my newborn, I did not step away from our union. This put me in a financially awkward situation – I was no longer earning a standard income, yet my member dues remained unchanged. I could choose to go on Honorable Withdrawal and postpone paying my dues until I started work again, but doing this felt like a disadvantage to me as a member who is actively contributing to their union. If I were to go this route, then I would be unable to make my voice heard in a vote. I also could not serve in an elected position during my time on Honorable Withdrawal and also for a full year afterwards. Additionally, since I was not working at a studio, I could not volunteer to have my dues waived either by serving as a Shop Steward. It felt like my best choice was to pay my full dues, despite receiving no income or financial aid of any kind for an entire three months and only partial assistance for the other six months of my leave.
We should be giving members who find themselves in a similar position as myself a better option. That is why I, along with Kristin Donner of the FAM Committee, will be bringing a proposal before the membership at this September’s General Membership Meeting that entails introducing a reduced dues schedule specifically for members who are on Family Leave. Family Leave can take many shapes, in addition to caring for a new child. Members may find themselves stepping away from work to care for aging and ailing parents and other family members, which puts them in a similarly challenging position. Making this new option available will help more of our members keep their Active status while weathering these trying times in their lives, which will allow them to have an equal voice in our union. Any type of dues adjustment requires a vote by the members, so please be ready to make your voice heard on this matter!