Union political spending rests on forced dues

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month organized labor spends about four times as much on politics as generally thought — about $4.4 billion between 2005 and 2011. Nearly all of it went to support politicians who routinely vote to drown Americans — including workers — in taxes, regulations, debt and wasteful spending.
But what union members get with the dollars their unions spend on politics is a minor indiscretion compared to the sin of how union bosses get much of that money in the first place. I’m referring, of course, to compulsory dues.
Unionized workers pay dues for their unions’ collective-bargaining activities, but they are not required to financially support the political or ideological causes of Big Labor bosses. In fact, workers are actually entitled to a refund of their dues used for purposes unrelated to collective bargaining, contract administration or grievance processing, according to the 1988 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Communication Workers of America v. Beck.
In that celebrated case, it was determined the union had been using as much as 79 percent of Harry Beck’s dues for partisan politics — and almost all of it on behalf of one particular political party. Nearly 25 years later, state and federal governments have done almost nothing to enforce the Beck decision.
Peer pressure and veiled threats from the top discourage the informed few from even attempting to exercise their Beck rights. When union members have actually challenged their union leadership to honor the decision, union leaders routinely stonewall, falsify the numbers and force disgruntled workers to spend large sums of money to litigate the issue.
In 1992 in the state of Washington, 72 percent of that state’s voters approved a ballot initiative requiring teachers unions to secure written permission from each worker before deducting political-action assessments from his paycheck.
What happened afterwards was astonishing. The number of teachers contributing to their unions’ political-action committees plummeted from over 45,000 to just 8,000. And the number of state workers making such a contribution — over 40,000 before the change — evaporated to a microscopic 82. That’s not a typo. No wonder unions everywhere are scared stiff that Beck rights might be enforced someday.

The same sort of thing has happened in Wisconsin since Gov. Scott Walker’s reforms kicked in more than a year ago. Membership in AFSCME, the government employee union, has fallen by more than half since early 2011. Now that the union has to rely on its members’ approval to spend their money on politics, few of those members are giving the union so much as a nickel.

Thomas Jefferson was right on the money when he said 200 years ago, “To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” In a free society, no union — indeed, no company or organization of any kind — should ever be allowed to force anyone to pay for its political spending.
.............

(Lawrence W. Reed, a resident of Newnan, is president of the Foundation for Economic Education in Irvington, N. Y., and Atlanta.)



More Opinion

A note from the publisher

A lot has occurred at The Newnan Times-Herald over the last few months, and I believe it’s an appropriate time to let you know what we ... Read More


Rants, Raves & Really?!?

A look back at last week’s highs, lows and whatevers: REALLY?!?: Grantville has a new police chief, the third one in about as many yea ... Read More


Georgia Says

The Augusta (Georgia) Chronicle on the Affordable Care Act: A private foundation issued a report claiming 20 million Americans "gained cover ... Read More


‘Murder in Coweta’ has continual silver lining

The killing of farmhand William Turner in 1948 was a tragedy. Turner, who was using the name Wilson Turner, was a young husband and father. ... Read More


Rants, Raves & Really?!?

RAVE: To Alex Ogletree for giving back to his alma mater, Newnan High. Ogletree gave $5,000 to upgrade the NHS weight room. The NFL gave a m ... Read More

Georgia Says

Savannah Morning News on healthy use for food stamps: The nation's welfare system often does a better job of keeping some families in povert ... Read More