How union bosses have hijacked our government

stranglehold_cover-webBy: Reed Larson, National Right to Work (1999)

Table of Contents


Introduction: “Why This Book is Needed Now”

Chapter 1

“Big Labor’s Rise to Power”


Seizing Control of Workers:  The Growth of Compulsory Unionism  From the 19th Century to the Great Depression

Compulsory Unionism, the Great Depression, and Roosevelt’s “New Deal”

U.S. Supreme Court Hammers “New Deal” Legislation.

Unpatriotic Strikes Lead to State Right to Work Laws

Government Worker Compulsory Unionism

Compulsory Unionism of Government Workers Skyrockets.

Big Labor and Government Workers — Compulsory Unionism Today

Chapter 2

“Workers’ Rights vs. Union Power:  The Slow March Toward Freedom”


The Country’s Attention Turns to Big Labor Abuses

Forced Dues for Politics:  Supreme Court’s First Blow to Big Labor Since 1935

Supreme Court Decisions Chip Away At Forced Dues For Politics

Union Bosses Are Hit Where it Hurts:  Their Wallets

Union Bosses Lose Legal Loopholes

Workers Finally Win Due Process Rights

Private Sector Workers Freed from Forced Dues For Politics

Union Bosses Must be Taken to the Mat Every Time

Chapter 3

“Buying Power: Forced Union Dues and Politicians”

Big Labor’s Goal:  Control Government with Forced Dues

Government Union Bosses:  The Most Powerful Interest Group

Chapter 4

Compulsory Unionism vs. Public Service:  Strikes, Wasteful Spending, and Poor Service

The Five Key Problems with Government Compulsory Unionism

Government Union Bosses: Seizing Power from the People.

Taxpayers Suffer at the Hands of Government Union Power

Featherbedding and Wasteful Work Rules:  Doing Less for More Money

The union bosses killed the program.

Protecting the Incompetent

Strikes and Violence:  The Darkest Side of Government Compulsory Unionism..

Whom Do You Call When the Police Desert?

Firefighter Strikes — No Town is Safe

Government School Strikes and Violence — What Do Kids Learn?

Government Sector Union Violence:  Ripping Apart the Fabric of Society

Why Politicians Refuse to Stand Up to Union Bosses

Chapter 5

Taxes, Taxes, Taxes:  The Cost of Government-sector Unionism

Arbitrators Take Power and Money from the People

Cause and Effect:  Compulsory Unionism and Government Bankruptcies

Case Study:  Philadelphia’s Financial Collapse

The Costs of Monopoly Labor Demands

The Combined Costs of Compulsory Unionism

Chapter 6

“Political Action First: The Rise of Government Teachers Unions”

The Rise in Power of Teacher Union Bosses

Service Fees or “Fair Share”: Forced Dues

Forced Dues for Politics

Teachers’ Rights

How Teacher Union Bosses End-run Teachers’ Constitutional Rights

Political Action of the Teacher Union Bosses

How NEA Teacher Union Bosses Buy our Government

Teacher Union Bosses and National Elections

Teacher Union Boss Power in State Elections

Local School Boards — Teacher Union Boss Targets

Uniserv:  The NEA Union’s Paid Political Machine

Money-Making Schemes

Pocketing Taxpayer Money Through Tax Exemption Status

Teacher Union Boss or Insurance Salesman?

Ultra-liberal Agenda of the NEA Teacher Union Bosses

Chapter 7

“Whose Children Are They?  Teacher Unions Dumb Down Education”

Who Cares about Education?

Teacher Union Bosses and the Decline of the U.S. School System

Illiteracy Through “Whole Language”

“Outcome Based Education” (OBE): Feeling Good About Knowing Nothing

For Teacher Union Bosses, A Dues-Paying Teacher is a Competent Teacher

Union Bosses Oppose Competency Tests

Union Bosses’ Political Views in the Classroom

Teacher Union Bosses Encourage Members to Mislead Parents

What Are Teacher Union Bosses Hiding?

Chapter 8

“National Right to Work:  Winning the Fight for Freedom”

The National Right to Work Committee

National Institute for Labor Relations Research: Exposing the Costs of Compulsory Unionism

National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation: Freeing Workers from Big Labor’s Grip

National Right to Work’s Future: Winning the Battle for Freedom

Footnotes for Stranglehold by Reed Larson


Back cover:


In Stranglehold, Reed Larson reveals the astonishing story of how organized labor has acquired incredible, hidden power over most local, state, and national government in America.

The results of this power grab include:

  • Higher taxes on business and families
  • Bloated bureaucracies increasingly obstructing the everyday lives of Americans and job-producing businesses
  • Control of our schools by radical union chiefs rather than parents, taxpayers, and classroom teachers.

An explosion in union power over the past several decades has shackled almost 45 percent of all government workers into involuntary servitude to union officials.  All of these employees are forced to accept union “representation” and most are forced to pay dues just to keep their jobs.  This cash is then dumped into the political campaigns of Big Labor’s favorite politicians.

With millions of public employees – and thus, vital government services – beholden to union officials’ self-serving demands, Americans have lost control of their government.

Every citizen should know the shocking facts revealed in Stranglehold and learn how to take back our government – from city hall all the way to Washington, D.C.


Stranglehold:  How Union Bosses Have Hijacked Our Government


This is the story of how the bosses of organized labor amassed power over the workers of our nation’s largest class of employers — government.

While news stories often report shrinking union membership in the private sector, rarely is the story told of the rapid and expansive growth in the power of government union bosses over the public sector.

The results of this power grab include:

  • Higher taxes on businesses and families.
  • Bloated bureaucracies increasingly devoted to interfering in the everyday lives of Americans and ruining job-producing businesses.
  • Schools controlled by radical union chiefs rather than parents, taxpayers, and classroom teachers.

But above all, the result of the explosion of union power in the government sector is to drive millions of government workers into involuntary servitude, at the beck and call of Big Labor’s political machine.  For the vast majority of unionized government sector workers, union membership — or paying its equivalent in union dues — is not voluntary.

In practice, these workers are compelled to pay money to union bosses just to get and keep their jobs.

Politicians riding to elected office on the backs of Big Labor’s political machine vote to require government sector unionization.  This in turn puts more workers and more dollars under Big Labor’s control.  Union bosses then use this increased power to elect more politicians to do their bidding.  Quite simply, this cycle of mutual back-scratching must be broken.

I have devoted my life to fighting the injustices of compulsory unionism.  It is tremendously harmful to our nation’s economic prosperity, and it severely distorts a political order where, it is presumed, according to the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution, that “We the People” are self-governing.

If you wish to learn more about how you can fight back, or if you think I exaggerate, I invite you to read on.

Reed Larson

Chairman, National Right to Work


Introduction: “Why This Book is Needed Now”

“No man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent.”

— Abraham Lincoln

“In order to maintain themselves, unions have got to have some ability to strap their members to the mast.”

— Robert Reich, President Bill Clinton’s Former Secretary of Labor

Anne Parks got fired on March 11, 1978.

Anne was a highly praised teacher who stayed at Detroit’s Cody High School while many of her peers took safer and easier jobs in the suburbs.  She even served on the board of a professional teachers’ association.  She served 42 years in the Detroit public schools.

Anne was as devoted to her students as she could be.  When she graduated from high school in the first year of the Depression, she dreamed of being a teacher.  Her father saved enough money for her to attend Wayne State University, from which she earned a Bachelor’s degree in 1934.  Later that year, she began teaching in Detroit public schools.  She also continued her education, eventually earning Master’s and Doctorate degrees.

Anne loved teaching.  She touched the lives of thousands of youngsters.  Her peers respected her.  In every way, she served as a model public school teacher.  But her devotion eventually got her fired.  In 1969, she defied the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) union bosses who took control of her school district.  AFT officials didn’t care about Anne’s forty years of service, her advanced degrees or the lives she touched.  They wanted their compulsory union dues.

When she stood up for her right not to be forced to join or pay money to a union, the AFT had her fired.


In Waukesha, Wisconsin, County Executive Daniel Finley proposed to open the courthouse and county office building an hour earlier in the morning and keep them open an hour and a half later on Wednesday evenings.  He thought the expanded hours would be a valuable convenience for working people who cannot take time off in the middle of the day.

Mr. Finley thought no one would object to such a service.  No worker would be asked to work extra hours.  Instead, some workers would come in to work early and leave early.  Others would arrive later and leave later.  Virtually no extra costs would be incurred by taxpayers.  In fact, many workers looked forward to the chance to sleep a little later or come home a little earlier.  Who could possibly object?

The union bosses of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) did.  Even though no worker was to work extra and nothing in the union contract prevented the flexible work hours, AFSCME bosses ordered their lawyers to file an official grievance.  Thanks to AFSCME union bosses, a simple idea proposed to serve the people of Waukesha better was scuttled.


In the middle of summer, on July 1, 1986, AFSCME union officials in Philadelphia ordered 13,000 city government workers, including all the city’s garbage collectors, out on strike.  To the AFSCME union bosses, Philadelphia’s looming financial crisis didn’t matter.  Neither did the public health of Philadelphia’s citizens, many of them packed in teeming apartments and row houses.

By the time the strike was over, 80 million pounds of steaming, foul garbage had piled up and rotted on the streets of Philadelphia in 90-degree heat.   Terrorized politicians finally capitulated, and 6 years later the city’s budget deficit had mushroomed to $248 million.


Three very different examples, in three different places.  But common to each is the union bosses’ utter contempt for the workers they claim to speak for, and the taxpayers to whom they should be accountable.  Where did Big Labor’s bosses get such power?

Big Labor’s power in the government sector — as in the private sector — is built upon the twin pillars of compulsory unionism:  monopoly bargaining and forced dues, which we’ll call the “compulsory unionism two-step.”

Here’s how the two-step works:

Union bosses begin by demanding from elected officials the power to require that every person in a so-called bargaining unit be represented by a union agent if a majority of workers voting in the election choose union representation.  Under this specially granted power, if 51 percent of a small number of employees vote for a union and 49 percent against, all are subject to whatever contract the union bosses negotiate.

With just a simple majority of those voting required for a union win, and because “union organizers” routinely intimidate workers, often far less than 50 percent of workers actually want union “representation.”  Nevertheless, the union gets to negotiate for each and every worker.  Accordingly, every single worker loses his individual right to negotiate with his employer on his own behalf.

This is “exclusive representation,” which is more accurately called monopoly bargaining.  Union bosses have a monopoly on bargaining in the work place, whether an individual worker likes it or not.  That’s the first step.

After union officials acquire monopoly bargaining power over workers, they go back to the elected officials complaining that the special monopoly bargaining privilege is actually a huge burden on them because they are forced to represent workers who don’t pay for the “representation.”  Of course, the union officials never mention the fact that many workers are forced to accept Big Labor’s so-called “representation” which they did not ask for and do not want.  Nor do they mention that the compulsory “representation” frequently works against the workers’ interests.  To solve its “problem,” Big Labor demands the power to force workers to join or pay a fee to the union.  Not surprisingly, the fee for those who don’t wish to join formally is usually the full equivalent of regular union dues.  A failure to pay forced dues for forced representation would result in the worker’s loss of his job and livelihood.

This is forced-dues unionism.  Every year, union officials force each government worker to pay hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars to union bosses, even if the workers never wanted anything to do with the union.  Monopoly bargaining is step one.  Forced dues is step two.  Together, they make the compulsory unionism “two-step.”

Currently, Big Labor has this kind of power in whole or in part over government workers across much of the country.  In the case of public school teachers, for example, 34 states require either that teachers pay dues to the union or at minimum accept the union’s monopoly over representation.  In 20 of those 34 states (and in the District of Columbia), teachers must do both, or be fired.

As one might expect, the road to achieving this kind of power was not traveled over night.  In many respects, the story of government sector compulsory unionism follows and parallels private sector compulsory unionism.  Chapter 1 — “Big Labor’s Rise to Power” recounts this history in brief.

Also as one might expect, such an infringement on the rights and freedom of Americans spawned a great deal of courtroom drama.  Time after time, where weak-kneed or union-owned politicians trampled on workers’ rights, these workers used the courts to strike back.

Time and time again it was the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation which filed the suits and won the cases. Chapter 2 — “Worker Freedom vs. Union Power:  The Slow March Toward Freedom” recounts the key cases and current status of the legal battle for worker freedom.

But today, we are still a long way from the goal of securing for government sector workers the right to work without compulsory unionism.  And make no mistake, the net of compulsory unionism covers millions of workers and hauls into Big Labor’s coffers a great deal of money.  Today, the many unions of the AFL-CIO have monopoly bargaining power over about 7,000,000 workers at the local, state, and federal levels of government, extracting an estimated $3,500,000,000 a year in union dues.

What do the bosses of Big Labor do with such a huge sum of money?  Above all, Big Labor funnels immense chunks of money directly into politics and elections.  As the outline above of the compulsory unionism “two-step” makes clear, union bosses are dependent upon elected officials to pass laws that force workers to join unions and pay union dues.  How Big Labor uses its immense forced-dues treasury to elect and control politicians is the subject of Chapter 3 — “Buying Power:  Forced Union Dues and Politicians.”

And as the foregoing examples of Waukesha and Philadelphia illustrate, compulsory unionism has a profoundly negative impact on the services provided by government sector workers.  From the rampant “hate-the-boss” mentality, to the inability of managers to fire or discipline workers, to even violent confrontations in large strikes, union bosses place themselves above the people elected to run government.

Of course, another goal of union bosses is to expand continually the pool of government workers to unionize forcibly.  Often union feather-bedding (adding extra workers to do work a smaller number could do) and wasteful work rules create the very multiplication of workers which union bosses seize upon to line their pockets.  This exacts a heavy toll on the taxpaying public.  Chapter 4 — “‘After My Coffee Break’:  Government Union Bosses vs. Public Service” and Chapter 5 — “Taxes, Taxes, Taxes:  The Cost of Government-sector Unionism” explore the impact of compulsory unionism on public service and taxes.

In addition, the union bosses who have taken control of America’s public schools require special attention.  The National Education Association (NEA) and the smaller American Federation of Teachers (AFT) union bosses control public school employees at a level unrivaled in the government — or the private — sector.  In fact, over 70 percent of all public school teachers are under the thumb of the NEA/AFT union bosses.

Also unrivaled is NEA/AFT teachers unions’ program of political action in the legislature … and in the classroom.  Like most Big Labor chieftains, NEA/AFT union bosses exert their forced-dues political power on elected officials.  Their top demand is always to force teachers to pay dues.  And to get their way, teacher union bosses shamelessly hold children hostage, calling huge strikes which leave kids out of school.

But NEA/AFT union bosses want more.  They demand and often get the ability to control who is hired, fired and promoted.  Increasingly, they get control over what is taught in the classroom and what textbooks are used.

And what the NEA/AFT union barons want to teach reads like a wish list from the radical left:

  •  “Self-esteem” training and so-called Outcome Based Education which encourages children to reject their parents’ values and replaces reading, writing and arithmetic with feel-goodism.
  • Explicit sex education — including homosexuality as an acceptable “alternative lifestyle” — starting in the earliest grades.
  •  “Multicultural” training which ridicules Western civilization and the American republic.

The list goes on.  Meanwhile, student test scores and classroom discipline tumble.

The skyrocketing of teacher union bosses to power over America’s public school teachers, and the cost to teachers and taxpayers, is recounted in Chapter 6 — “Political Action First:  The Rise of Government Teacher Unions.”  And following that the outrageous, dangerous and sometimes just plain loopy things NEA/AFT union bosses demand and get in the classroom is reviewed in Chapter 7 — “Whose Children Are They?:  Teacher Unions Dumb-Down Education.”

A common theme through each chapter is how the National Right to Work organizations — especially the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation — have struck back against Big Labor.

Many experts are convinced that without the National Right to Work organizations, Big Labor would have won the final battle for control of America’s working men and women.  Then, Big Labor’s agenda of more government spending, higher taxes and government control of business would be unchecked.  No politician who refused to knuckle under would survive the union bosses’ wrath.

The proud legacy of the National Right to Work organizations’ fight for worker freedom is retold in the final chapter,  “National Right to Work:  Winning the Fight for Freedom.”

More than a simple history lesson, this book is a call to arms.

The National Right to Work Committee and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation have fought the union bosses’ forced-unionism agenda and won, despite the billions of dollars in forced dues Big Labor rakes in every year.  In fact, Big Labor’s financial resources are hundreds of times larger than those of National Right to Work.

Despite the union hierarchy’s bulging forced-dues coffers, National Right to Work has several irreplaceable assets on its side.  The American people, for example, overwhelmingly support the Right to Work principle.  In fact, 75 percent of Americans believe it is wrong to force someone to join or pay dues to a union to get or keep a job.

In addition, the National Right to Work organizations’ staff includes true grassroots leaders, the finest legislative and legal tacticians, and the toughest attorneys.  Through years of battle these dedicated men and women have forged a special courage for fighting, often against all odds, for what is right.

And behind the scenes, urging the Right to Work forces to victory, are the hundreds of thousands of dedicated Americans who make up the members, supporters, and donors.  Against tremendous obstacles and nearly overwhelming resources, the National Right to Work organizations have mobilized the American people and won court battles to block power grab after power grab.

However, much more needs to be done.  While Big Labor’s growth in the private sector may appear to be slowing, the growth of union-boss power in the government sector continues apace and its political involvement is exploding.  Forced unionization of police, fire, and rescue workers literally threatens the lives and safety of Americans.  Strikes, work slowdowns, and retaliatory actions disrupt the lives of citizens in dozens of places every year.  The police force on Capitol Hill has now come under the thumb of the AFL-CIO, perhaps threatening even our national security.  Forced unionization of emergency services is today a top priority for Big Labor.

Many other vital and important services — for example, garbage collection, tax administration, animal control, and health inspection — present union bosses with opportunities to influence voters and threaten private companies and citizens.  All the while, the drain on taxpayers increases and the quality of public services falls.  In states, cities, towns, counties, and classrooms across America, this is the clear lesson.

And, of course, there are the workers themselves.  Under compulsory unionism, union bosses strip workers of the freedom to support or not support a union as they choose.  Workers’ money is ripped from their paychecks before they even get them and turned over to union bosses.  And then this same money is used to elect politicians and support policies which the workers often oppose.

In the end, it is a simple matter of freedom.  For over two hundred years, America led the way in a world battling for freedom.  Working together, Americans must fight to end the tyranny of compulsory unionism abuses in government before union bosses and their private agendas, not accountable public officials, come to control every government function.


Chapter 1

“Big Labor’s Rise to Power”

“I want to urge devotion to the fundamentals of human liberty — the principles of voluntarism.  No lasting gain has ever come from compulsion.”

­– Samuel Gompers, father of the labor movement.

“So, let me assure you [UAW Convention Delegates] and let me warn any employers who may have formed the wrong idea of where this union is heading.  Where our power of persuasion fails we will use the persuasion of power without hesitation.”

— Owen Bieber, President of the United Auto Workers union.


While the advantages and disadvantages of trade unionism have been debated for over one hundred years, the vast majority of Americans agree upon at least one thing:  It is wrong to force workers to join or pay money to a union just to get or keep a job.  Yet compulsory unionism has been a fact of life for millions of American workers in the private sector since 1935.

In the government sector, the percentage of union membership — spurred by compulsory unionism — has risen so rapidly it is now nearly four times the percentage of workers unionized in the private sector:  43% of government workers are covered by a union, as opposed  to 11% of private sector workers.

With government continuing to grow at virtually all levels, Americans increasingly suffer from the effects of government sector compulsory unionism which:

  • Erodes the quality of public safety and service
  • Increases featherbedding and wasteful work rules
  • Increases tax rates and government bankruptcies
  • Increases the number of illegal strikes, often resulting in violence
  • Compromises government security
  • Spreads a “hate-the-boss” mentality
  • Corrupts the political process

The specifics of how and to what extent compulsory unionism affects the country (causing poor and disrupted service, higher taxes, and worker rights violations) will be addressed in subsequent chapters.  The main issue in this chapter is how Big Labor was able to strip workers — government and private — of their right to choose whether or not to support a labor union.

In short, Big Labor got power by first arm-twisting politicians and legislators to exempt them from normal common laws, then using federal and many state governments to force workers to pay dues.  The more power union bosses got, the more they wanted.  Compulsory unionism in America soon spread, like a cancer, to government.

With added money and power from private-sector compulsory unionism, Big Labor preyed on government workers.  Beginning in the 1960s, union czars increasingly recognized that government-sector workers were the easiest to unionize by force.  These workers — insulated against competitive pressures, with lower rates of turnover — afforded union bosses increased power and returned more dollars in forced dues for each dollar spent on organizing.

In many ways, compulsory unionism in the government sector poses a greater threat to American politics and prosperity than does its private-sector equivalent.

Seizing Control of Workers:  The Growth of Compulsory Unionism  From the 19th Century to the Great Depression

Prior to the 20th century, union bosses, who were mostly radicals and subversives, enjoyed fewer privileges than today. Even so, the incipient inclination toward compulsory unionism was present even then.  “We have shown,” wrote British labor radicals Sidney and Beatrice Webb, “that this universal aspiration of Trade Unionism — the enforcement of membership — stands, in our opinion, on the same footing as the enforcement of citizenship.”

In the years prior to World War I, however, American unionism evolved:  “Experiments with political radicalism gradually gave way to business unionism — the notion that unions must pursue immediate, material gain for their members within a private enterprise system.”   American unions — mostly the product of American Federation of Labor founder Samuel Gompers’ work — were largely credible and voluntary.   And Organized Labor’s legislative aims at the turn of the century were in keeping with their espoused voluntarism.  The first real piece of federal legislation Big Labor successfully passed was the Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914.   According to American labor law authority Donald R. Richberg, “It is noteworthy that labor in this provision did not seek the positive action of federal law to stimulate union growth, but negative action designed to protect unions from prosecution under the antitrust laws.”

But as Richberg, once a union lawyer, would later acknowledge, the Clayton Antitrust Act’s real significance lay in the fact that union operatives learned they could pass laws to promote their own interests.  Soon thereafter, he wrote, union bosses’ “primary objective [had] become the acquisition of political power.”

Following the success with Clayton, Big Labor used World

War I as an opportunity to seize compulsory power for the first time.  During the war, politicians like President Woodrow Wilson used the “national emergency” as an excuse to take operational control of many businesses.  Government worked hand-in-glove with Big Labor.  As recalled by Morgan O. Reynolds, research expert on labor union history and economics,

The government proclaimed its support of unions, ordered the establishment of work councils of employee representatives in non-union plants, forbade interference with union activities, ordered companies to reinstate union members with back pay, seized defiant companies like Western Union and Smith and Wesson, and in one case created a union, the Loyal Legion of Loggers and Lumbermen.

Government intervention led to rapid growth among union ranks.  From America’s entry into WWI in 1917 to 1920, union membership doubled to 5 million workers (12 percent of the labor force).   The greatest union growth occurred in industries directly managed by government, especially the railroads and shipbuilding.

Following the war’s end in 1918 — and after the expiration of the “emergency” compulsory unionism laws — membership in unions fell.  While Big Labor had gained 2 million members during World War I, membership plummeted 1.5 million by 1923.

Big Labor’s bosses learned a simple lesson:  When government forces workers to join unions, Big Labor grows.  When government does not, Big Labor shrinks.  Union bosses also got a taste of what it is like to have their treasuries brimming with union dues thanks to compulsory unionism.

It was a lesson they never forgot.

The Transportation Act of 1920 turned railroads back over to private ownership.  However, “in order to meet the heavy problems of readjustment,” a Railroad Labor Board controlled by the federal government was set up to handle labor disputes.   This compromise set the precedent that labor disputes would be handled differently from other disputes in the private sector.

During violent strikes in 1922, the Railway Labor Board ruled against striking unions in the country’s first national strike.  As a result, the strike failed and Big Labor set its sights on a new target — the Railroad Labor Board.  With passage of the Railway Labor Act (RLA) in 1926, Big Labor replaced the Railroad Labor Board with a system of “compulsory arbitration of established rules — the so-called grievance disputes which are responsible for as much ill-feeling and eventual striking as any form of disagreement between management and labor,” according to Richberg.

The RLA did not include compulsory unionism yet (that would come later).  It did, however, compel the railways to contend with union officials, and it allowed government to step in and settle labor disputes.  Also, the complex lists of dos and don’ts that the RLA established benefited the union bosses by tying the hands of management.  Railroad representatives were forced to abide by rules concocted by union-boss lawyers.  By forcing both sides into arbitration and restricting certain actions, Big Labor had the upper hand.

The Norris-LaGuardia Anti-Injunction Act of 1932, signed by President Herbert Hoover, gave Big Labor immunity from antitrust laws, private damage suits, and injunctions in federal courts.  It also ended the ability of employers to use “yellow-dog” contracts, which prohibited employees from joining unions.

With the threat of court injunctions removed, union bosses were free to use “aggressive tactics” such as strikes and violence to break defiant companies, as well as intimidation to reel more workers into the ranks of organized labor.   Not surprisingly, strikes were the immediate effect of Norris-LaGuardia.  Between 1932 and 1933, strikes doubled to 1,695 and climbed to a peak of 4,740 in 1937.

Compulsory Unionism, the Great Depression, and Roosevelt’s “New Deal”

Big Labor uses two kinds of force to gain control of workers:  first, intimidation and/or violence; second, governmental power.  In the first, government’s role is passive — failing to protect workers, businesses and customers.  In the second, government’s role is active — forcing workers and customers to participate in an activity.  Both are acts of coercion.

While many people believe compulsory unionism began during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s term, the foundation was actually laid with the RLA and other bills signed during earlier administrations.

President Hoover signed Norris-LaGuardia in the dark days of the Depression and during his last days in office, having just been defeated for re-election by FDR.  With the election of Roosevelt (who campaigned and won on a vague agenda of taking “action” to stem the economic crisis), Big Labor had a president ready and willing to make landscape changes in labor law.

Indeed, his administration was characterized by action.  And with Congress acting more like a “rubber stamp,” Big Labor was the top beneficiary.   One example of this rubber-stamp Congress was the Emergency Banking Relief bill, the first to come up in the special session called by the new president.  On the same day President Roosevelt had the bill introduced, the House of Representatives passed it unanimously without a roll call vote.  By 7:30 that evening the Senate approved it.

What came out of this rubber-stamp Congress was New Deal legislation not tested against the Constitution, designed to give more power to the federal government and Big Labor.  As a result, the Supreme Court swung into action with a flurry of decisions overturning New Deal laws.

U.S. Supreme Court Hammers “New Deal” Legislation

The first major Big-Labor payoff of the New Deal to come before the Supreme Court was the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) of 1933, a “system of industry codes or cartel agreements, sanctioned by the government” to raise prices throughout the economy.   In addition, in NIRA Section 7 (a) the government gave Big Labor increased power by promoting policies of compulsory unionism.  It also trampled the rights of workers.  At issue before the Court was whether or not a person could be in control of individual contracts (specifically labor) lower than the government’s mandated price.

In 1935, the Supreme Court ruled on the matter in Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States.  Although Big Labor, President Roosevelt and Congress saw New Deal legislation as necessary due to the national emergency of the Great Depression, the High Court saw it differently.  In Schechter, the High Court ruled unanimously to overturn the NIRA because

[t]he effect, in respect to wages and hours, is to subject the dissenting minority… to the will of the stated majority… To ‘accept’ in these circumstances, is not to exercise choice, but to surrender to force.

The power conferred upon the majority is, in effect, the power to regulate the affairs of an unwilling minority.  This is legislative delegation in its most obnoxious form; for it is not even delegation to an official or an official body… but to private persons… [A] statute which attempts to confer such power undertakes an intolerable and unconstitutional interference with personal liberty and private property.  The delegation is so clearly arbitrary, and so clearly a denial of rights safeguarded by the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment, that it is unnecessary to do more than refer to decisions of this Court which foreclose the question.

The Court took a clear stand.  But desperate to give their Big Labor masters more power, Congress quickly rewrote NIRA Section 7(a) into what would be the Wagner Act — or the National Labor Relations Act.  President Roosevelt signed it in July of 1935.

The stakes were high.  The NLRA was the most significant piece of labor law in American history.  Its main purpose was to make it easy for Big Labor to herd unwilling employees and businesses in the private sector into monopoly bargaining contracts.  The three key components of compulsory unionism passed in the Act were “exclusive representation,” “union security,” and “mandatory bargaining in good faith.”

Now, workers could either be forced to “join” a union and pay full union dues (closed shop) just to get or keep a job.  With the NLRA, union bosses not only had the law stacked in their favor, but also gained a semi-administrative, semi-judicial agency called the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in the U.S. Government to implement their new compulsory powers.  The NLRB enforced the NLRA’s main features, which included:

  • Declaration of “unfair labor practices” to restrict employer resistance to unions.
  • Conducting worker elections.
  • Determination of eligible voters.
  • Enforcement of monopoly bargaining.
  • Rulings or decisions in labor disputes; even compelling witnesses and holding hearings.

This political board (stacked by President Roosevelt with pro-union-boss cronies) was Big Labor’s branch of the executive and judicial government.

In 1936 Roosevelt scored a landslide reelection victory, garnering 523 electoral votes to Republican Alf Landon’s 8.  Roosevelt’s Democrats won 80% of the House of Representatives and 75% of the Senate.

But the Supreme Court still stood in the way.  Despite this super-majority and added ability to impeach the justices (if all the Democrats obeyed Roosevelt’s commands) the Supreme Court again defied Roosevelt’s threat and his New Deal power grabs in Carter v. Carter Coal Co. (1936), decided just after the election.  The High Court ruled the Bituminous Coal Conservation Act (BCCA) of 1935 unconstitutional because of its labor provisions  and struck down the BCCA for precisely the same kind of grant of coercive power as in Schechter.

FDR knew if the same arguments in Schechter and Carter were used in an NLRA case, the NLRA would also be overturned.  Flush with his landslide victory, President Roosevelt went on the offensive against the Supreme Court — just as he had done with previous political enemies.

Roosevelt had a piece of Court-packing legislation secretly written in the White House and quickly transmitted to Congress. Then, as part of a 1-2 punch, Roosevelt delivered a national radio address on the issue just before the Court heard oral arguments in NLRB v. Jones and Laughlin Steel Corporation (1937) — the case that would determine the fate of the NLRA.

The radio address was no bluff.  In a famous phrase, Roosevelt mocked the Justices as “tired old men.”  Roosevelt pointed out the Constitution does not specify the number of justices on the Supreme Court, and threatened that if the “tired old men” on the Court did not stop blocking New Deal legislation, he would push to expand the Court by six more justices.  With a majority of justices, Roosevelt’s measures would be cleared, even if the “tired old men” didn’t change their tune.”

The Court and the rest of America heard his message loud and clear.  For Roosevelt and his Big Labor masters, the real prize was the National Labor Relations Act.  If the Act was overturned, it would spell disaster for Big Labor’s designs to seize control of American workers.

This time, the Supreme Court backed Roosevelt’s schemes.  Scholars widely believe that two justices, Chief Justice Hughes and Associate Justice Roberts, were sufficiently intimidated by Roosevelt’s Court-packing threat to switch their votes from 6-3 against Roosevelt in Carter to 5-4 for Roosevelt in Jones and Laughlin.

As a result, when the Supreme Court voted 5-4 in April of 1937 to uphold the NLRA, it was forever dubbed the “switch in time that saved nine.”

The leaps of logic made by the Supreme Court were astonishing.  In fact, the High Court held that under “exclusive representation” workers were free to enter into independent contracts with an employer; therefore the NLRA was constitutional.  But the Court failed to explain the contradiction of “exclusive representation” which did not incorporate every worker.  The Court also “dismissed without explanation” the legal argument that it was constitutional for the federal government to delegate legislative power to private groups.  The Court declared the precedents of Schechter and Carter were “not controlling here.”

Soon after, Roosevelt’s Court-packing legislation quietly died in Congress.  Within four years of the historic “switch in time,” death and resignation took away the Court’s strict constructionists.  In fact, Roosevelt got to replace seven of the Supreme Court’s nine Justices during his administration.  The old Court was replaced with New Dealers who upheld the new legislation.  With this New Deal Court in place, no major labor law case was brought up and won by pro-freedom employees for decades.

Now, Big Labor had untapped power at its disposal, passed by Congress, signed by the president, and approved by the Supreme Court.  Union officials wasted no time grabbing power over workers and filling their coffers with forced dues.  Union membership skyrocketed from 2.8 million in 1933 to 8.4 million in 1941.  By 1952, membership peaked at 25.2% of the civilian labor force — over 16 million workers.

And this time, union bosses did not worry about membership decline like they did after World War I.  This time, union bosses had the power of government to compel workers to “join” unions.

Unpatriotic Strikes Lead to State Right to Work Laws

“During World War II,” labor law authority Donald R. Richberg reports, “there had been over 13,000 strikes — a disgraceful record for ‘patriotic’ labor.  In 1946, the first year of peace, the unions made an all-time record of 5,000 strikes, involving 4,600,000 employees and resulting in 116,000,000 man-days idle.”

Americans rose in outrage at these “unreasonable demands on private industry and government.”   Consequently, in 1947 a newly-elected Republican Congress passed the Taft-Hartley Act, amending the NLRA in 1947 over President Truman’s veto.  The Taft-Hartley Act changed the law so that:

  • States’ right to pass Right to Work laws was guaranteed in Section 14(b);
  • “Unfair labor practices” applied to unions as well, and not just employers;
  • “Closed shops” (which allowed unions to fire or not hire non-union workers) were forbidden.

While the Taft-Hartley Act was another misguided expansion of federal influence in the private sector workforce, it did affirm the states’ ability to pass Right to Work laws.  Right to Work laws establish the principle that a worker cannot be forced to join a union or pay union dues against his or her will.  By 1965, 19 states passed Right to Work laws or secured this protection in their state constitution.  Today, 21 states have Right to Work protection for their citizens.

It was widely held that passage of Taft-Hartley was a setback for Big Labor.  In reality, union bosses actually gained a partial victory.  The major problem with Taft-Hartley is that it did not return the law to the pre-New Deal standard.  It continued to allow workers to be told by government that they must “accept” monopoly bargaining — thereby surrendering their individual right to negotiate with their employers on their own behalf — to get or keep a job, and it forced workers to pay union dues or fees against their will in non-Right to Work states.  Taft-Hartley would continue to allow Big Labor abuses, just not as many as before.  Private sector unions would continue to grow to an unprecedented size even after passage of Taft-Hartley.

If Taft-Hartley was a partial Big Labor victory, the victory which followed it was complete.  Big Labor successfully amended the RLA in 1951 so both the RLA and the NLRA paralleled each other in their sanction of forcing employees to pay union dues.   Lusting for more power even after the partial union victory of Taft-Hartley, Big Labor seized the moment in another blatant power grab:  compulsory unionization of government workers.

Government Worker Compulsory Unionism

Generally speaking, unionism in the federal government began with the Lloyd-Lafollette Act of 1912 and the Keiss Act of 1924.  Prior to these two laws, the government forbade workers to participate in union activities.

Lloyd-Lafollette allowed for the unionization of postal workers. As a result, union membership in the government sector took a sharp increase, jumping from 61,000 in 1912 to 92,000 in 1917 and gaining steadily thereafter.  The Keiss Act, which allowed the Government Printing Office to unionize, would also contribute to the increase in government union membership.

Still, federal law forbade government unions from forcing workers to join or pay dues, and from calling strikes.  Popular opposition to government compulsory unionism and strikes forced President Roosevelt to proclaim that

“a strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intention on their part to obstruct the operations of government until their demands are satisfied.  Such action looking toward the paralysis of government by those who have sworn to support it is unthinkable and intolerable.”

Without compulsory power or presidential backing, government unionism grew slowly in the first half of the 20th century.  However, that changed after 1950.  A key factor was the Taft-Hartley Act, which gave state and local governments a green light to impose government sector compulsory unionism unless a state Right to Work law said otherwise (bearing in mind that even where such laws exist, Big Labor still enjoys the power of monopoly bargaining, forcing even non-members to accept their “representation”).  By 1960, many states had compulsory unionism laws that mandated “exclusive representation” and forced dues for state and local government workers.

In fact, the number of state and local government workers caught in Big Labor’s net nearly doubled, from 183,000 in 1947 to 341,040 in 1961.   Similarly, the percentage of Big Labor membership at the federal versus state level would start shifting quickly.

Compulsory Unionism of Government Workers Skyrockets

Fifteen years after Taft-Hartley, another of Big Labor’s wishes came true.  President John F. Kennedy signed Executive Order (EO) 10988 encouraging federal workers to become unionized.  It used the language of freedom to give to Big Labor the power to wrest away that freedom.  Ostensibly, the order gave federal government workers the right “to form, join and assist any employee organization, or to refrain from any such activity.”

In fact, “EO 10988 changed federal policy from tolerance and ‘benign neglect’ under Lloyd-Lafollette to an activist and decisive policy encouraging the formation of unions and the commencement of bargaining, or what was termed negotiations, in the executive departments and agencies of the federal government.”

While neither forced dues nor strikes were allowed, Big Labor gained the upper hand in forcibly organizing workers and dealing with government managers.  Federal unionization leaped from 600,000 in 1961 to nearly 1.2 million by 1972.

Even though EO 10988 was a federal executive order, it had its biggest political impact at the state and local level.  As one report says, EO 10988 “set off an avalanche of similar legislation.”   And as a result, the number of unionized state and local government workers skyrocketed from 341,000 in 1961 to 1.9 million in 1965, surpassing federal workers in total number of employees unionized.

Membership continued to expand rapidly.  By 1970, membership was nearly 3 million; by 1976, it was nearly 5 million.  By 1981,

there were 39 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands with statutes or executive orders providing a legal framework for collective bargaining covering most of their employees.  Of these, 24 states, [Washington,] D.C. and the Virgin Islands had comprehensive statutes covering all public employees;  11 states had comprehensive legislation limited to specific groups of employees. . . .

Additionally, four more states by 1981 had granted at least limited collective bargaining power to union bosses over some or all employees.

Big Labor and Government Workers — Compulsory Unionism Today

Today, government sector compulsory unionism is even more encompassing than it was in the private sector.  Government unions are now the biggest unions.  Two of the three largest unions in the country are the National Education Association (NEA, 2.1 million members) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME, 1.2 members).

As of 1996, total government sector membership was over 6.8 million; 5.8 million at the state and local level and over 1.0 million at the federal level.  In addition, the net of compulsory unionism extends to another 1.2 million non-member government employees.

Today, according to the Bureau of National Affairs, government sector unions have reached a higher level of unionization than ever achieved in the public sector and remain almost quadruple that of the private sector (43% vs. 11%).”   Government sector unionism continues to grow — and with it, power of union bosses.

As we shall see, this power and privilege to Big Labor union bosses carries significant consequences to the American people in the form of bondage of government employees, poorer government service, increased government spending, and above all, higher taxes.

Chapter 2

“Workers’ Rights vs. Union Power:  The Slow March Toward Freedom”

“We the people, in order to form a more perfect Union … secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America.”

— U.S. Constitution.

“To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical.”

— Thomas Jefferson, 1786.


Thomas Jefferson’s words of wisdom and warning have gone unheeded in America’s modern compulsory unionism labor scene.  Starting in the 1930s, federal labor laws encouraged and protected the growth of compulsory unionism arrangements between union officials and employers, forcing millions of employees to pay union dues as a condition of employment.  Today, union officials have the power to compel employees to support a labor union financially in 29 states.  In these states which have not yet passed a Right to Work law, this power leads to abuses of workers’ human rights and civil liberties.

Yet even in the 21 states that have such a Right to Work law, enforcement is difficult.  Most employees are never told by union representatives or employers that they cannot be required to join the union or pay compulsory dues — practices which are illegal — and most do not know there is a law protecting their rights.  Many union agents take advantage such ignorance to institute a de facto “union shop” — join the union or else.

Such abuses of the freedom and rights most Americans take for granted has drawn state courts, federal courts, and especially the Supreme Court into the fray again and again.  Over the last 30 years, brave American workers have used the courts to strike back against compulsory unionism schemes.  But the battle is far from over.  In any particular case, it can take several years to reach a Supreme Court decision.  Tens of thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of work later, a case may win on one or two points in question, while one or two key questions remain unanswered.  While the result is a nationwide precedent affecting millions of workers, it is a slow process.  Yet it is faster, it has been shown, than many legislative efforts on behalf of worker freedom.  And the Supreme Court — whose justices are picked by politicians of different parties over many years — is not always consistent.

In Chapter 1, I reviewed how Congress teamed up with Big Labor and the executive branch law by law, regulation by regulation, to chip away at worker rights.  In this chapter, I will explain how workers’ rights are on the road to recovery via the courts.  This brief history of major labor law cases encompasses the courts’ process of correcting themselves — especially, in recent years, due to the actions of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

The Country’s Attention Turns to Big Labor Abuses

Starting in the 1950s, and continuing to the present day, cases have been brought before the High Court which time and again whittled down Big Labor’s power.

The modern era of labor law cases began in 1956 with the case of Railway Employees Department, AFL, et al. v. Hanson.  At issue was a 1951 amendment to the RLA authorizing monopoly bargaining and forced dues.  Before the 1951 amendment, railroad and other transportation workers were not forced by law to join or pay dues to unions as a condition of employment.   Workers pointed out that the “exclusive representation” provisions of the new law violated their First Amendment freedom of association and the due process protections of the Fifth Amendment.

Because a number of years had elapsed since the Jones and Laughlin incident, it was thought that perhaps the Supreme Court would rule against “exclusive representation.”  However, the Supreme Court left intact “exclusive representation” and forced dues.  In fact, the Court ruled the Railway Labor Act overrides state Right to Work laws.

But the Court also suggested for the first time that there may be legal and constitutional limits to the use of forced dues for politics.  In other words, forcing workers to pay dues was acceptable, but using forced dues for politics might not be.  But since Hanson did not challenge forced dues for politics directly, the Court did not rule on the issue.  Instead, the justices basically begged for a case addressing the specific question of which forced dues expenditures were illegal.

Five years later, they got their wish.

Forced Dues for Politics:  Supreme Court’s First Blow to Big Labor Since 1935

In 1961, the Supreme Court in International Association of Machinists, et al. v. Street found that forced union dues were illegally spent for politics.  In this case, workers of the Southern Railway System documented that a “substantial part” of forced dues was used for politics. Objecting to the politics and the seizure of their wages, they asked the Court to throw out the entire union security agreement as unconstitutional.

The Court agreed with the dissenting workers, but not entirely on constitutional grounds.   According to the Court, the 1951 RLA amendments in question did not allow forced dues for politics.  It only allowed forced dues for “collective bargaining” purposes:

Thus all that was held in Hanson was that § 2, Eleventh [of the Railway Labor Act] was constitutional in its bare authorization of union-shop contracts requiring workers to give “financial support” to unions legally authorized to act as their collective bargaining agents.  We sustained this requirement — and only this requirement. . . . Clearly we passed neither upon forced association in any other aspect nor upon the issue of the use of exacted money for political causes which were opposed by the employees.

But due to the lack of specific language defining “collective bargaining” in Street, wide latitude remained for continued abuse of forced dues for politics by Big Labor.

Still, Street cracked Big Labor’s forced-dues armor.  Subsequent cases would present other critical issues:

  • Information — How would a worker know what to object to if union bosses control all the books?
  • Due process — How would a worker go about not paying these objectionable fees when the union boss calls all the shots?  Why can’t workers opt out?  Why can’t workers file class-action suits?
  • Amount — How much should dissenting workers legally be refunded? Does the union boss control this accounting process too?

Constitutional questions would be laid aside for awhile.

Supreme Court Decisions Chip Away At Forced Dues For Politics

Two years after Street, the question of information came up in another RLA case, Brotherhood of Railway and Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express and Station Employees, et al. v. Allen (1963).  The Court found that since union officials hold all pertinent facts and records, the burden of proof falls on them to justify forced dues.  The Court also ruled political spending could only be drawn from funds withheld from “non-dissenters.”  Dissenters were allowed to opt out of all political expenditures at once — they no longer had to object to specific expenditures — but were still forced to pay for expenses of “collective bargaining.”

The same year another private-sector case came before the Supreme Court concerning the NLRA (which governs private sector industries except interstate transportation, which is covered by the RLA).  In National Labor Relations Board v. General Motors (NLRB v. GM), the Court ruled that workers could not be legally forced to be formal members of a union.  All that a worker was forced to do was pay fees (even if this was done against the worker’s wishes) related to “exclusive representation”:

Under. . . § 8 (a) (3) [of the National Labor Relations Act], the burdens of membership upon which employment may be conditioned are expressly limited to the payment of initiation fees and monthly dues. . . . “Membership” as a condition of employment is whittled down to its financial core.

Essentially, this case applied the principles of Street and Allen under the RLA to all private workers under the NLRA, effectively outlawing compulsory union membership.  This “whittling down” of unions to their “financial core” in effect outlawed the union shop.   It would be fourteen years before another Supreme Court decision would favor workers’ freedoms.

In Street and NLRB v. GM the Court laid the groundwork for protecting worker freedom.  However, even though a dissenting worker was supposed to be reduced to only a “financial core” member or “agency fee” dues payer, in reality workers got nothing but crumbs.  Sometimes union bosses would only refund as little as one per cent — because the sum to be refunded was determined by Big Labor – and even then, only if the worker steered his way through a sea of paperwork.

Bulging union-boss bank accounts had yet to be seriously affected.

Union Bosses Are Hit Where it Hurts:  Their Wallets

When the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation played a key role in returning the Supreme Court’s attention to Big Labor, compulsory unionism, and forced dues for politics, the Court finally began to side with workers and to hit Big Labor where it hurt most — right in the assets.

As noted in Chapter 1, Big Labor snatched up private sector workers first, then began gobbling up government workers.  In court, Foundation-won government sector cases followed those in the private sector.

In Abood v. Detroit Board of Education (1977), the Supreme Court directly addressed the constitutionality of government sector compulsory unionism.  Foundation attorneys representing Abood and his co-plaintiffs argued that, based on the inherently political nature of government sector unionism and the need to ensure public employees’ First Amendment rights against political coercion, government sector agency fee-agreements should be found unconstitutional.  Big Labor argued that government-sector employees may be compelled to support political activities because government is their employer.  The Court flatly rejected this argument.

Persuaded by the strength of Foundation attorneys’ arguments, the Court ruled that forced dues for politics violates the First Amendment, and that it is unconstitutional to withhold forced dues from objectors beyond the cost of collective bargaining.  In practice, while it didn’t declare that “agency shops” in public employment are unconstitutional, the Court made it clear that the “agency shop” fee could not legally include the portion of union dues used for political purposes.

Abood applied the Street standard to public workers.  Workers now could only be forced to pay financial core fees for collective bargaining.  Union bosses responded by setting up a sham rebate scheme through which dissenting agency-fee payers, after incredible paperwork, harassment, and intimidation, could receive a rebate which represented a small fraction of their forced union dues.  In fact, one Communications Workers of America union local in New Jersey arrogantly rebated one cent out of annual dues of more than $250 in its so-called “good faith” efforts to comply with Abood.

But despite appearances, the legal noose was tightening.  In Abood, the Court expressed its interest in litigation to determine the extent to which “agency shop” fees were used for political and other non-representation purposes and to secure the employees’ Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment due-process rights.  Now compulsory unionism litigation was to focus directly on union bosses’ dollars.  Abood made it clear that all government workers shared the same rights.

Union Bosses Lose Legal Loopholes

In 1984, a case related to forced-dues expenditures and due process protection under the RLA came before the Court.  The case was Ellis v. Brotherhood of Railway, Airline and Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express and Station Employees, et al.  The plaintiffs, again with the representation of Foundation attorneys, challenged union expenditures of forced dues for all purposes other than collective bargaining.

A unanimous Court held Big Labor’s spending of forced dues for any purpose other than collective bargaining unconstitutional.  The Court also ruled that “the union cannot be allowed to commit dissenters’ funds to improper uses even temporarily.”   If a worker requests it, union bosses must subtract from the fees, not rebate, forced dues used for politics.  This decision closed the Street, Allen and Abood loophole.  No longer could the union bosses nominally comply with the law through a phony “rebate” to employees.

Although Ellis was a huge victory, the crusade was not complete.

Workers Finally Win Due Process Rights

In 1986, the Court decided the landmark public-sector case of Chicago Teachers Union, Local No. 1, AFT, AFL-CIO, et al. v. Hudson.  National Right to Work Foundation attorneys representing the teachers challenged the union bosses’ automatic payroll rip-off of union dues, arguing their due-process rights were violated.  The teachers argued they should be given independent information before any money was extracted.  Big Labor’s lawyers argued that a 5% reduction in dues and a complicated internal procedure for dissenting teachers were compatible with what the earlier Court had established.

But the unanimous Court decision sided with the workers and the National Right to Work Foundation.  Its ruling:

  • Applied civil rights statutes and found that Big Labor had denied due process to employees.
  • Set aside the “pure rebate” concept and required that dissenting workers not have their money taken improperly, even temporarily.
  • Required all employees be provided with information necessary to determine the financial breakdown of forced dues before the dues are extracted.
  • Required financial figures to be verified by an independent auditor.
  • Required judgments on the cost of collective bargaining to be issued promptly and impartially.

With this decision, Foundation attorneys reinforced their earlier Ellis victory.  Once again, it found unconstitutional the unions’ spending of workers’ compulsory dues for politics, ideological causes, recruitment, organizing, and other activities unrelated to collective bargaining.

For the first time, National Right to Work attorneys won for injured employees the right to due process of law in determining the amount of the forced agency fee they can be required to pay.  Union bosses were finally instructed with detailed legal procedures.  Independently audited financial information given to workers before dues are extracted and fair hearing processes was no longer optional — the Court required it.

This allowed a worker to make an informed decision on whether or not he or she wanted to be a union member or just a “financial core” member.  And if a worker did not want any money to be taken for non-collective bargaining expenses, that worker would know precisely how much money would be retained in his or her paycheck.  Additionally, by bringing workers’ cases under the protections of the Civil Rights acts, class-action law suits (previously blocked by the Court in the 1961 Street ruling) became an option.  With a class-action threat, union bosses now had to obey the law or risk huge court losses.

This decision was the first major financial defeat for Big Labor.  A good example of what this can mean to disobedient unions is the case of Hohe v. Casey.  In 1995, 57,000 Pennsylvania state employees, again with the free legal help of National Right to Work Foundation attorneys, won back $8.6 million in illegally seized forced dues from union czars of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

Private Sector Workers Freed from Forced Dues For Politics

In 1988, the Supreme Court ruled 5-3 for worker freedom in the landmark private-sector case Communications Workers of America v. Beck.  Harry Beck, a telephone technician, sued because the “union security agreement” in effect at his workplace required a worker to pay full union dues as a condition of employment.  Beck and his National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorney, Edwin Vieira, Jr., cited Hudson and argued that forced dues cannot be used for anything but collective bargaining.

The landmark Beck decision transferred the withholding power from Big Labor to employees.  The Court declared that workers — non-members in “union shops” and “financial core members” in “agency shops” — can withhold forced dues from a union for everything but the documented cost of collective bargaining.  And Beck determined through extensive (and expensive) discovery that fully 79 percent of forced dues paid by telephone company employees to the Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO, could not be attributed to non-collective bargaining purposes.  The decision, in fact, affirmed that private-sector worker rights are the same as government sector workers protected by Abood and Hudson and transportation workers in Ellis.

In summary, Beck, Ellis, and Abood taken together break down the artificial barriers between private-sector (under NLRA), government, and transportation workers (under RLA) to empower all employees to withhold forced union dues for all activities unrelated to collective bargaining.  If Beck’s 79 percent figure were enforced across the board, Big Labor’s bosses could lose as much as $4 billion in illegally-seized forced dues for politics.

Union Bosses Must be Taken to the Mat Every Time

Of course, Big Labor’s czars did not rush to comply with Beck or Hudson.  In Lehnert v. Ferris Faculty Association (1991), the Court clarified earlier rulings by establishing a 3-part test based on the First Amendment to judge the chargeability of union activities paid for by forced dues.  Specifically, chargeable activities must:

  • Be “germane” to collective bargaining activity;
  • Be justified by the government’s “vital policy interest” in labor peace and avoiding so-called “free riders;”
  • Not significantly add to the burdening of free speech that is inherent in the allowance of an agency or union shop.

The legal battleground now turns on holding each and every union boss to the full measure of the law.  Although the courts have whittled somewhat at the edges of the earlier “switch in time” decision, the fact remains that the process of winning back workers’ rights is far from over.  Millions of public and private workers remain locked in forced-dues cellars without any idea that the U.S. Supreme Court has told Big Labor to let them loose.

Of course, if union bosses were to respect the law more than they lust for forced dues, they would follow the procedures the courts have laid out.  But history teaches that union bosses must be taken to the mat before they will do what is right. As well-known commentator Paul Harvey has said,

For years, those of us who belong to unions have resented the use of our money to support political causes contrary to our personal opinions. . . .  Using compulsory union dues for political purposes is now against the law.  [Yet m]any unions are deliberately ignoring the law. . . .

As long as forced dues are used for politics, Big Labor’s addiction to government will remain.

Chapter 3

“Buying Power: Forced Union Dues and Politicians”

 “[W]e’ve got the finest political organization in the nation.”

— AFL-CIO boss George Meany

“We’re political as hell.”  

— Jerry Wurf, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees

These examples of Big Labor politics are just the tip of the iceberg:

  • In 1976, the Communications Workers of America union bosses spent their members’ forced-dues money for such things as paying 113 union operatives to conduct mass mailings and get-out-the-vote drives in target states “identified by the Carter Campaign.”
  • In 1991, the United Steel Workers union bosses put 52 paid staffers to work full-time in Pennsylvania for the U.S. Senate race.  With the help of the union bosses, U.S. Senate candidate Harris Wofford won an upset victory.
  • With the 1992 presidential election only two weeks away, the National Education Association union bosses loaned out one fifth of its national headquarters staff to the Clinton/Gore campaign for round-the-clock campaign work.
  • In 1996, AFL-CIO top dog John Sweeney brought Big Labor’s forced-dues political spending to unprecedented heights.  With his highly touted, but grossly under-stated, “$35 million,” in-your-face campaign, the AFL-CIO bought untold legions of political attack ads targeted at Republicans running for federal office.


In fact, the experts estimate that for every dollar in reported expenditures by Big Labor, union bosses pump ten dollars or more into political campaigns.

How big an impact does Big Labor have?  In 1996, Dr. Leo Troy, an economics professor at Rutgers University, estimated Big Labor’s expenditures on politics to be between $300 and $500 million.   Dr. Troy is widely regarded as the nation’s leading scholar on Big Labor in America.  His estimate is more than the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee spent combined.  Then, in 1997, former Teamsters lobbyist F.C. “Duke” Zeller concurred that organized labor spent $400 million on politics in 1996.   Overwhelmingly, this bounty of union-boss treasure comes from the pockets of workers whom union-owned politicians have sold into forced-dues slavery.

Big Labor’s Goal:  Control Government with Forced Dues

In the 1974 elections, the AFL-CIO (a private and government sector union conglomerate) swept in 70 percent of the candidates its political arm endorsed.  According to the union’s own paper, the AFL-CIO News, “In 1974, [the] Committee on Political Education (COPE) endorsed 389 House candidates, of whom 270 won and 33 Senate candidates of whom 25 won.  Of 33 endorsed gubernatorial candidates, 26 won.”  Veteran labor columnist Victor Riesel reported that “I stopped counting when I got to some $25 million spent by unions big and small in this congressional campaign.”

Of course, Riesel was only counting Big Labor’s reported expenditures.  According to Douglas Caddy, author of The Hundred Million Dollar Payoff, Big Labor’s landslide victory in the 1974 elections proved, “When this mammoth manpower output is added to the money and other resources mobilized by labor, an inescapable and significant conclusion emerges:  Organized labor today has a political apparatus which is more powerful than either of the two major political parties.”

In his 1984 race Democrat presidential primary against Senators Alan Cranston and John Glenn, Walter Mondale had a silent partner: Big Labor’s unreported, unaccountable campaign waged on his behalf.  As reported by Dan Rather, experts estimated that union operatives’ phone-banking campaign alone amounted to 700,000 calls on Mondale’s behalf, a gargantuan effort no other candidate could afford.


In 1979, Oregon union boss Morton Shapiro engineered passage of a statewide referendum forcing state workers into forced-dues servitude.  The trouble actually began in 1973 with the enactment of Oregon government-sector bargaining statutes that empowered union bosses like Shapiro with monopoly bargaining privileges over unwilling state workers.

Using the nearly inexhaustible resources of private-sector forced dues from Oregon workers, Shapiro took government-sector compulsory unionism to the next step:  forced dues.

But Shapiro went too far, even for a Big Labor chieftain.  He coerced an assistant into printing an additional 6,000 ballots for “agency shop” elections held among 24,000 Oregon state employees represented by his union.  Shapiro’s ingenious scam called for the purchase of over 3,000 commemorative postage stamps — later affixed to envelopes bearing the bogus ballots.  Shapiro then ordered the aide to canvas Oregon and mail the illegal ballots from the various “agency shop” election sites to Oregon State Employees Association headquarters.  To insure an “agency shop” victory, Shapiro destroyed the ballots bearing a “no” vote and replaced them with his own special ballots – identified by the commemorative stamps — in favor of “agency shop.”

Finally, after complaints from public employees and an exhaustive investigation by federal agents, a federal jury took only two and a half hours to find Shapiro guilty on 20 counts of mail fraud.  He was sentenced to two years in federal prison.   Despite Shapiro’s conviction — and the fraudulent victory in the 1979 referendum — Oregon state public employees remained in forced-dues servitude.


In 1996, when scandal-ridden Senator Bob Packwood finally stepped down from office, a special election was called for Oregonians to choose his successor.  Big Labor quickly mobilized to dump $183,000 in cash into the campaign of its candidate, union lackey Representative Ron Wyden.  However, this money was dwarfed by a massive soft money, forced-dues extravaganza which paid for:

  • Dozens of union-payroll campaign operatives;
  • 350,000 pieces of attack mail;
  • 230,000 phone calls to swing voters.

When the dust settled, Democrat Ron Wyden won a startling victory over the heavily-favored Republican Gordon Smith by a margin of only 18,000 votes.  AFL-CIO chieftains gleefully claimed credit and bragged they had a “model” for Big Labor victories for the future.


Since U.S. Supreme Court decisions clearly outlaw the use of forced dues for any political purposes, one would think the union bosses would be careful to hide their actions.

In fact, Big Labor brags.  A newsletter of the United Steelworkers union matter-of-factly states forced-dues money “can do a lot: mailings supporting or opposing candidates, phone banks, precinct visits, voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, [and] contributions to national, state or local central COPEs [union political action committees].”

Union bosses seek to influence the political market in a number of ways.  By influencing the vote of a union member, union bosses sometimes influence the member’s entire family.  In some cases, there may be three or four more people in that family who have been affected by Big Labor.  In areas of the country with heavy union penetration, this by itself can be a major point of influence.

But in reality, survey after survey shows even union members — indeed, even voluntary union members — routinely oppose Big Labor’s hand-picked candidates.  Most industrial union members, for example, supported the election of Ronald Reagan.  Even teacher union members split their votes evenly in 1984 between President Reagan and Walter Mondale (the explicit choice of NEA union bosses).

And Big Labor exercises power over politicians far beyond its membership, in the form of hundreds of millions of dollars which union bosses spend every year on politics.  Mostly, this comes from forced dues taken from captive workers.  The most visible part of this program is the AFL-CIO’s political action committee known as COPE (Committee on Political Education).  COPE has become a powerful lobbying force in Washington, D.C. by distributing money to politicians who pledge their allegiance to the AFL-CIO union bosses.

In 1980, Big Labor gave $13.1 million in PAC contributions to political candidates.  This huge sum represented 24 percent of all PAC contributions that year.   By 1990, Big Labor PAC contributions grew to $88.9 million.   This sum only includes actual cash contributions.  The real money lies in the other resources that Big Labor provides.  Big Labor PAC money is dwarfed by “in kind” expenditures spent both from Washington D.C. and from hundreds of state and local affiliates for such things as:

  • Massive phone banks to targeted voters for candidate identification, negative propaganda and get-out-the-vote drives;
  • “Non-partisan” TV and radio ads which put out the union bosses’ political line;
  • Slanted voter guides which masquerade as simple “educational” pamphlets;
  • Direct mail campaigns in support of or opposition to candidates, and carefully worded candidate “profiles” in union-boss-controlled publications;
  • “Volunteer” efforts involving dozens — sometimes hundreds — of union operatives handing out literature, stuffing mail, and making phone calls, often while drawing a full paycheck from union bosses or compulsorily unionized companies.

The result is the election of politicians subservient to Big Labor.

How successful is Big Labor?  Consider that in the summer of 1996, the National Right to Work Committee brought up for a vote in the U.S. Senate a National Right to Work bill, a bill favored by 75% of all Americans.  This bill would eliminate compulsory unionism in every state (except for state government employees).  Given the landslide Republican victories in the 1994 elections (giving that party control of both the houses of Congress for the first time in over forty years), many experts thought Big Labor had lost its clout.

Not so.  Union bosses whipped their lackey politicians into killing the National Right to Work bill by a lopsided vote of 68 to 31.  The 68 Senators opposed to Right to Work received an $22.5 million in reported union contributions over the previous ten years in reported combined union contributions.  (Of course, these Senators were also the beneficiaries of even more unreported “in-kind” contributions from Big Labor.)  The 31 in favor of worker freedom received less than $1 million.

Government Union Bosses:  The Most Powerful Interest Group

Stylish, high-tech Manchester, New Hampshire, whose 91,000 residents make it the largest city in a state dominated by small towns, doesn’t seem a likely setting for an armed insurrection.

But that’s just what happened Sunday, March 27, 1994 according to a report by the Manchester Union Leader’s Jack Kenny.  Kenny reported that a roving mob of gun-toting, uniformed police union militants, led by the boss of the Manchester Patrolmen’s Association union, besieged the homes and families of the city’s mayor and three aldermen.  An eyewitness said 40 to 50 armed police officers swarmed the front lawn of Ward 12 Alderman Ron Machos, who was not at home, and screamed at Machos’ wife and grandchildren.

“We’ll be back,” Patrolmen’s Union President Edward Kelley snarled at Machos’ wife, Ruth, and son, Ron Jr., as he pounded his fist into the palm of his open hand.

“I felt like I had a bunch of thugs coming to my front door,”  Mrs. Machos told the Union Leader.  She added that her oldest grandchild was crying out of fear her grandmother would be killed by the police.

Ward 2 Alderman Francoise Elise and her family were not at home when the armed union mob arrived at their front door.  Elise said she had gotten a “very hostile” call from union President Kelley the day before.  Leaving the house was the only security available for Elise and her family, since, as she pointed out, “If I had felt threatened and didn’t want that activity to occur at my house, who was I going to call?”

Edward Kelley apparently staged this insurrection to block consideration by the mayor and aldermen of a reform that would have saved taxpayer dollars by breaking the Manchester police union bosses’ monopoly over traffic control.  In Manchester, traffic flagmen duties could only be performed by city patrolmen, who overwhelmingly pay union dues under New Hamshire’s monopoly bargaining law.  Kelley seemed determined to keep it that way.  After this terror campaign, city fathers quietly killed the plan to hire non-patrolmen as flagmen.


August 12, 1980, Paul Manner, union-boss of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union, called a strike in Prince George’s County, Maryland.  He had demanded that the county agree to a “closed shop” provision, and allow employees to be paid for union activity.  When County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan stood his ground despite a concerted public relations campaign against him orchestrated by AFSCME union bosses, the destructive 11-day strike was on.

The strike hit county wide, with 714 members of five public employee unions participating.   A number of public service agencies were hit hard.  The strike’s effects first hit the county jail in Marlboro.  As soon as AFSCME workers walked off the job, prisoners started to trash the jail.  Inmates smashed bullet-proof windows on enclosed guard observation posts, set mattresses afire, and attacked windows leading outside the jail.  Prince George’s County Sheriff James V. Aluisi compared the scene to “a horror movie. . . . There were two fires going from different mattresses, glass was all over the floor, steel bunk beds ripped off the walls. . . The inmates were everywhere, screaming at us. . . . The adrenaline was going like mad.  We expected a fight, but thank God we didn’t get it.”

Deputy Sheriff James W. Hubbard added, “If [the inmates] had known how to work the switches in the control room, they would have been out.”   Only after police rushed in and took the place of striking workers did the disturbances finally cease.  It took a force of more than 30 state troopers to do the job.

The County Animal Center suffered extensive damage and sabotage by AFSCME vandals.  Records were scattered, dogs being observed for fear of rabies were set free, requiring an extensive search to prevent dogbite victims from having to take painful rabies shots, and dogs known to be vicious had their IDs removed and were turned loose along with other animals.


In July, 1995 John Sweeney — then head of the Service Employees International Union, and later that year the new czar of the AFL-CIO — threatened the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors with “a massive campaign of resistance and retribution” if SEIU workers were laid off.  To make his point clear, Sweeney had some 3,000 union militants take over the street outside the Board’s chambers — chanting and waving signs on thick wood stakes.  20 of them were arrested for blocking traffic.


“The Role of Politics in Local Labor Relations,” published by the UCLA Law Review, stated,

Public employee groups are now ‘factions’ in American society. . . . They have become an organized force capable of achieving their own particular aims through the political process, aims that may not parallel and in fact are often adverse to those of the average citizen.

Government sector unions have continually demonstrated that they do not wish merely to let their members’ political voices be heard.  They want to control the government altogether.

As later chapters will show, when government sector union bosses seize political control, they not only gain power to force workers to pay union dues (as do private sector union chiefs), they also gain the power to bloat the taxpayer-funded payroll and control hiring.  In other words, by taking political power, government sector union bosses control both the workers and the government.

As the examples above make clear, government sector union bosses also have tools unavailable to private sector union bosses with which they can force their will on politicians.  They can deny public services to the constituents of a recalcitrant politician.  Roads may not be paved.  Garbage pick-ups may be delayed.  Fire alarms may be responded to slowly or not at all.  Entire cities may be held hostage during strikes.  Both Philadelphia and New York City suffered through public garbage worker strikes as union bosses used mountains of stinking trash as a stick to beat concessions from politicians.

No local government is too small for government sector union bosses — especially teacher union bosses.  Typically, they target local school boards for takeovers.

For example, when the Long Beach, California, School Board refused to order payments of compulsory dues from teachers in 1988, Felice Strauss, President of the local National Education Association affiliate, targeted the board in the next election.  Using forced-dues resources from all over California, the teacher union bosses swamped the freedom-loving board members.  As a reward, newly-elected School Board members turned over Long Beach teachers to compulsory unionism.   Union-boss Strauss boasted, “It wasn’t until we changed the composition of the school board” that teachers were shoved under a forced-dues contract.

Government sector compulsory unionism costs all Americans. Citizens and taxpayers pay the price in the form of skyrocketing government expenditures, public workers strikes, and ever-increasing taxes.  Public workers pay an even dearer price in the form of union dues ripped from paychecks and spent to elect politicians many of them oppose.  That price represents their freedom.


Chapter 4

Compulsory Unionism vs. Public Service:  Strikes, Wasteful Spending, and Poor Service

“A strike in the public sector is not economic — it is political … One of the greatest reasons for the effectiveness of the public employees’ strike is the fact that it is illegal.”

— Albert Shanker, Late President American Federation of Teachers

 “Sometimes, when you’re standing on the line and you got a brick in your hand, you have to throw it.  Then it’s up to the union lawyers to get you out!”

— Avowed socialist William Winpisinger, President, International Association of Machinists

 “Whether public employees should or should not have the right to strike is an irrelevant question…  Laws prohibiting strikes by public workers have not, do not, and never will prevent a strike.”

— William McClennon, President, Fire Fighters Union

The Five Key Problems with Government Compulsory Unionism

There are five main problems with government sector compulsory unionism.

First, government is by definition a monopoly.  Government compulsory unionism virtually monopolizes a monopoly.  In the private sector, if union boss demands cause inefficiency or poor service, a company loses money and may go out of business.  A company may move to a Right to Work state.  Some companies simply move to another country, leaving American workers out of a job.  In short, in the private sector, a company victimized by compulsory unionism has at least a few options.  But with government, there is no competition to check the effects of Big Labor’s monopolistic ways.  Tax dollars and politicians insulate union bosses from the effects of compulsory unionism.

Second, the power to seize compulsory dues from employees’ paychecks gives government union bosses hundreds of millions of dollars in dues.  These dues are then pumped into the campaigns of their favorite tax-and-spend politicians, as well as into massive lobbying efforts for higher taxes, wasteful spending and more special union privileges.

In fact, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys litigated a key case on behalf of employees in which union bosses could only prove they spent 10% of a public employee’s forced dues on collective bargaining.  Union bosses devoted the balance to politics and other activities.

Third, union bosses have virtually no accountability to the public whom government workers serve.  They are not elected by the public, nor can they be fired by a public official.  Thus service goes down, and costs go up.  Way up.

The most alarming example is education.  Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia have granted union bosses — most often from the National Education Association (NEA) teachers union — the power to control teachers.  In 20 states, NEA teacher union bosses extract forced dues from teachers as a condition of employment.

In addition to controlling the terms of teachers’ employment, NEA union bosses demand — and exercise — tremendous power over curricula.  For example, by promoting “outcome based education” they have abandoned educational standards.  This rise of teacher union boss power adversely affects the quality of student education.  In fact, a Forbes magazine cover story reported a direct correlation between the rise of teacher union boss power and the decline of Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores (see Chapter 7).  Yet the cost per pupil in tax dollars has steadily risen, even after adjusting for inflation.

Fourth, compulsory unionism dangerously distorts America’s political system of checks and balances and separation of powers.  The price politicians pay to be elected by union bosses’ forced-dues is to hand control over public employees — and therefore, much of government policy — to union officials.

For example, during the air traffic controllers strike in 1981, union bosses ignored legal prohibitions against strikes and adopted a cynical “public-be-damned” strategy and jeopardized the lives of countless Americans.  In fact, the attitude of union bosses toward public service is best summed up by Robert Poli, then President of the Air Traffic Controllers (PATCO), who said “the only illegal strike is the one that fails.”   Not until President Ronald Reagan fired the strikers did control rest with the citizens’ elected representatives instead of union bosses.

Fifth, Big Labor’s monopoly power and forced-dues privileges give union bosses tremendous power to intimidate workers and the public, often with strikes, vandalism, and outright violence.  The National Institute of Labor Relations Research (NILRR) has found over 8,500 media-reported acts of union violence since 1975.  No one is sure just how much union violence has gone unreported, but odds are the numbers are staggering.  During the New York Daily News strike of 1990, for example, the media reported 71 incidents of violence.  But the New York Police Department recorded more than 500, and the Tribune Company noted over 1,000.  Similarly, the Detroit newspaper strike racked up more than 200 misdemeanor complaints in its first nine months.  This is more than double the 83 incidents reported in the Detroit media.

Since compulsory unionism is coercive by definition, it is only natural for those who benefit — the union bosses — to push coercion as far as it will go.  This often leads to violence.

And for government employees, violence usually occurs during a strike.  Strikes by firefighters, police officers, postal workers, garbage collectors, and other public servants pose a grave public danger.  Citizens have virtually no recourse when government workers walk away from their jobs or further damage the public’s trust by committing acts of violence.

Federal and many state laws even give union militants protection from prosecution for vandalism, assault, and worse.  In particular, the 1973 Supreme Court case United States v. Enmons held that the Hobbs Anti-extortion Act does not reach cases of union violence if the violent acts are perpetrated in pursuit of what the court called “legitimate union objectives.”  In other words, if the strike’s stated objectives include higher wages or other work-related goals, federal law enforcement is powerless to stop it.  As outrageous as this may seem on its face, and as tortured as the Court’s logic is in this decision, the current state of federal law permits union violence.

When the Hobbs Act first passed the Congress in the late 1940s, its clear intent was to bring union militants’ extortionate ways to heel.  Congressman Hobbs himself stated as much quite unambiguously, on the floor of the House of Representatives, while arguing for its passage:

[The bill] is so clearly expressed that it will do the job it is meant to do, which is to prevent interference with interstate commerce by robbery or extortion. . . . Ladies and gentlemen of the House, crime is crime, no matter who commits it.  Robbery is robbery and extortion is extortion, whether or not the perpetrator has a union card in his pocket.

Unfortunately, this language was not unambiguous enough for the majority of the Court in U.S. v. Enmons.  The majority reached its bizarre interpretation of the Hobbs Act based on its reading of a single word.  The government, in defending the Act,

slights the wording of the statute that proscribes obtaining property only by the “wrongful” use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear.  The term “wrongful” . . . would be superfluous if it only served to describe the means used.  For it would be redundant to speak of “wrongful violence” or “wrongful force” since. . .  any violence. . . is “wrongful.”  Rather, “wrongful” has meaning in the Act only if it limits the statute’s coverage to thse instances where the [extortion] would itself be “wrongful” because the alleged extortionist has no lawful claim on that property.

In other words, the majority claimed that since the Act mentions “wrongful” violence, there must conversely be something called “acceptable” violence.  Apparently unwilling to leave well enough alone, Justice Potter Stewart (who wrote the majority opinion) followed this specious logic to its inevitable conclusion:

[T]he Hobbs Act has been properly held to reach instances where union officials threatened force or violence. . . to obtain personal payoffs, and. . . “wage” payments from employers in return for “imposed, unwanted, superfluous and fictitious services” of workers. . . . [But the Hobbs Act does not reach] the use of violence to achieve legitimate union objectives, such as higher wages. . . .

In other words, the reason for the violence is critical in determining whether the Hobbs Act considers it “wrongful” violence and therefore extortion.  In other words, the end justifies the means.

In 1993, an independent contractor named Eddie York was on his way to work at a West Virginia coal mine during a United Mine Workers walkout.  He never got there.  A union militant shot him through the head.  Eddie was 39, and left a wife and daughter behind.

The FBI was able to identify the trigger-man, a UMW thug named Jerry Dale Lowe.  But West Virginia authorities declined to charge him, even with assault.  And the FBI and United States Attorney lacked the authority to bring murder charges, except in certain limited instances.  Because of the Enmons decision, they couldn’t charge the UMW union bosses under extortion statutes, either.  The only justice the widow and orphaned daughter of Eddie York ever saw was the conviction of Lowe for incapacitating a driver on a federal roadway.

Local and state law enforcement officials lacked the political will to take on the union-orchestrated violence perpetrated in their own back yard and refused to pursue criminal charges against York’s known murderer, union tough Jerry Dale Lowe.

Stories like these are legion in both the private and the government sector.  As we shall see, Big Labor union bosses abuse the public trust through measures that hurt public service.  Of course, Big Labor shows no concern over the costs.

Government Union Bosses: Seizing Power from the People

Teacher union bosses often make curriculum a subject of their contracts.  Millions of unsuspecting children are taught things agreed on not by parents or classroom teachers, but by government officials and union bosses behind closed doors.   Former NEA President Catherine Barrett boasted: “We are the biggest potential striking force in this country and we are determined to control the direction of education.”


By May 1990, New York City had a $3.5 billion budget deficit which threatened to throw the city into bankruptcy Court.  Even though the city was in a financial emergency, “public employee unions resisted efficiencies, refusing — in the words of Teamster leader Barry Feinstein — ‘to be cowed by the financial crisis.’  The bottom line as one city manager sees it:  ‘The unions have a stranglehold on New York.’”


Weston, Connecticut, officials opposed forcing public school custodians to pay a compulsory “service fee” to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) bosses.

The matter went to an arbitration panel which ruled 2-1 in favor of the union bosses.  The panel also ruled that officials couldn’t promote government employees on the basis of qualifications, skill or performance.  Seniority was the only lawful consideration.


Simply put, Big Labor gets its power from legalized compulsion of workers.  In 1981, 24 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands mandated collective bargaining for all public employees.   In these non-Right to Work states, all Big Labor has to do to gain monopoly control over a government workforce is hold an election and gain a simple majority vote of those workers who vote.  Gaining a majority vote is usually easy for Big Labor’s machine.  Few workers fully understand the meaning of the vote.  Intimidation discourages pro-worker freedom turnout.  Payoffs and pie-in-the-sky promises are common.

As a result, “exclusive representation” is more often certified than not.  In fact, union bosses control fully 52% of all government workers in the 34 states which permit monopoly bargaining, while only 23% of government workers in the other states are under the thumb of compulsory unionism.

“Exclusive representation” and compulsory union fees enable government union bosses to do more than trample the rights of individual employees.  Union bosses gain power and use their position to set the terms of government policy.  Behind the scenes, union bosses take power away from the people.

Taxpayers Suffer at the Hands of Government Union Power

Even if government officials and politicians want to serve voters better, union bosses stop them from delivering higher quality services at reduced costs.  As noted in Chapter 3, government unions’ war chests bulge with forced dues, and union officials use this money to fight proposals to cut waste, privatize services or trim bloated payrolls.  After all, no union boss wants to lose a dues-paying worker through layoffs or privatization.

“Collective bargaining” gives union bosses control over all workers.  A worker cannot get out from underneath Big Labor’s thumb unless a majority of fellow workers does so collectively — or the worker quits.  This leaves most workers trapped.

Once government union bosses have a monopoly, they immediately act to protect themselves and their forced union dues.  It is a well-documented fact that once a bureaucracy is created, it rarely relinquishes its power.  This leaves most taxpayers trapped.

As a result, taxes go up, service erodes or both.  Sometimes, the effects are seen right away, as is the case with strikes.  Sometimes it takes several years for citizens to notice the rise in taxes.  But in the end, the negative effects of compulsory unionism always make themselves felt.

Featherbedding and Wasteful Work Rules:  Doing Less for More Money

In Casselberry, Florida, National Association of Government Employees (NAGE) union lawyers filed a class-action grievance charging that cost‑conscious Mayor Andrea Dennison discriminated against the union when she started to streamline the city’s padded payroll.


In 1988, New York City Schools moved to curb custodian union powers after widespread waste and job abuse.  In fact, The New York Times reported:

Principals, teachers and school officials complain that the custodians, whose contract limits their duties to cleaning and ‘minor repairs,’ frequently refuse to do simple tasks, like painting and fixing windows.

Parents say that school buildings, which must be swept only once every two days under the contract, are filthy.  Community groups have rebelled against the fees they must pay to custodians for use of the school buildings after school hours.  And state audits have accused the custodians of widespread nepotism and other hiring irregularities.


When city officials in Spokana, Idaho, tried to use inmate labor to do work that park staff didn’t have time or money to do (such as trim trees and clean the river bank) the city’s largest union complained loudly.  Compared to paying six temporary, seasonal employees $6 an hour (for a total of $36), or a regular union employee from $9 to $13 per hour (as much as $78), city officials paid six inmates $1 an hour each, plus $13.53 per hour for a correctional officer (totaling $19.53) — a bargain for taxpayers.

The union bosses killed the program.

Philadelphia union boss contracts demanded that city sanitation crews (garbage collectors) be three-man crews.  Although it is industry standard to have only two workers, union officials wanted to pad the work rolls.  The extra worker per crew came at a cost of an estimated $2.6 million annually.


In June, 1988, an Applications Programmer in the Philadelphia Revenue Department was rejected after his six-month probationary period.  The complaint was that he was repeatedly missing from work.  It seems the programmer was fond of pinball and video games.  He left during work hours to play at local arcades.

The local union filed a grievance.  They said that the employee’s preference for pinball was a “gambling addiction.”  The local union demanded he be treated as having a “handicap.”  Three years later, the city won and the programmer was dismissed from the Revenue Department.  He was transferred to the Board of Pensions.


Stories like these show how union bosses play a big part in determining how jobs will be done by government employees and how many workers will be required.  The conflict of interest is clear:  Union bosses are compensated by the forced union dues of workers, and more workers means more forced-dues dollars.  By padding the payrolls, union bosses line their own pockets while the burden of these increased costs falls on the backs of taxpayers.

In addition, the practice of featherbedding increases the dependence of politicians on union bosses.  The more employees that are employed, the more clout, money, and political muscle a union boss will have to punish straying politicians.

Often it takes a strike before an agency or department can fully gauge how much featherbedding there is.  For example, during the air traffic controllers’ strike of 1981, replacement and supervisory personnel operated at 75% capacity with less than half as many employees as before the strike.  This represented a 60% increase in the controllers’ productivity with no decrease in safety.  In fact, by 1986, the air traffic controllers were handling 20% more traffic than in 1981 with four-fifths of the labor.

Protecting the Incompetent

New York City special-education teacher Jay Dubner was arrested, convicted, and sent to prison in 1990 for selling $7,000 worth of cocaine to an undercover police officer.  School officials thought it would be easy to dismiss him.  They were wrong.  Big Labor’s contract provided layers of protection.  The Board of Education spent more than $185,000 on disciplinary proceedings over five years.  Yet all this could not separate Mr. Dubner from his job.  While serving his sentence in Sullivan Correctional Center, Mr. Dubner collected his regular salary.


When Somerville, Massachusetts city officials discovered that there was food missing from a federal surplus food program, they hired a private investigator to find out why.  The detective found four city workers stashing 22 pounds of butter in a car.  Considering this stealing, the city fired two workers, one retired, and the fourth was suspended for five days.  However, the local Municipal Employees Union (MEU) filed a grievance.  They argued was there was no written policy against theft, and pointed to the fact that department supervisors had taken food in the past.

In ruling on the matter, an arbitrator told the city to rehire the two workers who had stolen.  The arbitrator also ordered the city to pay $25,000 to each worker in back wages.  A new worker was laid off to make room for the returning thieves.


When union bosses are in control, performance has little or nothing to do with promotion or job security.  In questions over promotion or job placement, union bosses demand that seniority, not qualifications, be the determining factor.  As the above examples show, union bosses go to great lengths to protect their forced-dues-paying subjects.

Promotion based solely on seniority and protection for incompetence rewards the poorest employees.  The best and most enthusiastic workers get discouraged.  In fact, union bosses have been known to insist on the punishment of workers that do extra work, because exceptional work challenges union jobs.  There is little question that the removal of objective standards — by which to gauge between good, bad and ugly service — has direct economic and managerial effects.  Over time, service slips to the level of the least motivated worker.

Discouraging good work is just one hazard.  The lack of testing can be dangerous.  By placing a worker in a job he or she is not qualified for, the public health and safety may be jeopardized (as with drug testing for transportation employees, for example).  No matter how good reform proposals are — like merit pay, competency testing to determine whether someone should be hired, and using evidence of student progress as a basis for evaluating teachers — Big Labor opposes them.

Strikes and Violence:  The Darkest Side of Government Compulsory Unionism

Monopoly power invites abuse.  As historian Lord Acton remarked, “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  Labor market monopolies bring out the worst in union bosses, even violence.  Driving the violence is union bosses’ lust to control huge amounts of forced dues.

Government union violence is not a secret.  Union bosses and their apologists discuss it as a fact of life which they expect citizens to accept.  For example, asked for his reaction to reported strike-related violence, William Hoffner, a high level official in the NEA teacher union, remarked in December of 1987:  “We’re in a strike situation.  People’s emotions can run high.”   As former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich remarked with surprising candor: “to maintain themselves, unions have got to have some ability to strap their members to the mast.  The only way unions can exercise countervailing power is to hold their members’ feet to the fire.”  In other words, violence and intimidation are a necessary tool to keep honest workers from acting independently.

A public employee strike often puts the public in danger.  Government services are cut for which there is no private alternative.  Police refuse to protect citizens against crime.  Firemen start fires.  Sanitation employees let garbage rot in the streets.  Teacher union militants assault working teachers in front of students.  All of this and more has happened.

Whom Do You Call When the Police Desert?

Striking police union militants in Pomona, California, vandalized patrol cars and tried to obstruct crime control efforts.  Police cars as well as private cars were vandalized.  Tires were slashed, windows smashed, and ignition systems jammed.  Keys to 200 patrol cars disappeared.  “I am ashamed of this kind of activity on the part of policemen,” Captain Jeremiah Taylor stated.  “The citizens feel the officers have abandoned them, and they have.”


San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto’s home was pipe‑bombed within hours after he warned on television that striking police union militants would be fired if they didn’t return to work.  The bomb shattered windows and seriously damaged the front door and porch pedestals.  The Mayor’s wife, Angelina, was in an upstairs room when the bombing occurred.

Firefighter Strikes — No Town is Safe

Striking firefighter union militants in Dayton, Ohio watched as fires destroyed homes throughout the city.  The fires spread to power lines, cutting off power for about 150 homes.  Firefighter union militants harassed honest firemen and volunteers working to extinguish the blaze.


St. Louis firefighter union militants set up pickets outside University City and prevented other firemen from putting out a fire.  As a result, the fire destroyed a plastics company.


In Nashville, Tennessee, striking firefighters damaged fire halls, making it impossible to use ambulances, communications equipment and fire-fighting equipment.  The militants slashed a fire engine’s tires and damaged its brakes.


During a strike in Kansas City, Missouri, firefighter union militants vandalized fire-fighting equipment.  Incredibly, some fire extinguishers were filled with flammable liquid, oxygen tanks were emptied, and the fuel tanks for fire trucks were fouled with water.


Firefighter union militants in Sylacauga, Alabama smashed City Hall windows and set fields ablaze.


During a firefighter union strike, the Mayor of Yonkers, New York and citizen volunteers fought two suspicious apartment building fires as tenants scrambled for safety.  Firefighters from neighboring towns came to help, but they were driven away by firefighter union militants who stood by and watched the buildings burn.

Government School Strikes and Violence — What Do Kids Learn?

After fed-up voters in Kalkaska, Michigan, repeatedly rejected proposals for tax hikes, NEA teacher union bosses, whose supporters controlled the school board, shocked people by shutting down the government schools.

The intimidation tactic worked, and the NEA teacher union got what it wanted — more money.  “We coordinated the whole thing,” bragged Allan Short, lobbyist for the NEA-affiliated Michigan Education Association.


During a strike in New York City, teacher union militants attacked private taxis taking handicapped children to schools.  Thugs also attacked a van carrying 14 handicapped children, kicking in the doors, smashing the lights, and dumping a sugar‑and‑sand mixture into the gasoline tank. Five people were arrested as a result of the meleé.


In Philadelphia, Municipal Judge Ricardo C. Jackson fined local teacher union boss John Ridgeway $3,000 and ordered him to pay $6,787 restitution for his vandalism against the homes of working teachers.


In Eugene, Oregon, teacher union militants started fights with a substitute teacher and a police officer.  The mililtants also pressed their own bodies against incoming buses to prevent substitute teachers from serving children.


Ashtabula, Ohio, teacher union vandals poured acid on one car and disabled another car by puncturing the tires with nails.


Two teacher union thugs in Columbus, Ohio, spray‑painted the word “scab” on the home of a substitute teacher.  A security guard working for the school district was reportedly kicked in the groin by a teacher union militant.


Teacher union militants became violent during a strike in San Pedro, California.  Los Angeles police formed a wedge to protect working teachers as they exercised their Right to Work.  Police arrested assistant football coach Rocky Garibay for attacking substitute teacher Richard Schwartz.   Three Molotov cocktails were tossed at a junior high school building.   Police arrested a teacher for throwing a rock which injured a 12-year-old girl walking to class.

Government Sector Union Violence:  Ripping Apart the Fabric of Society

Every type of government union has militants who destroy private property, intimidate, and attack innocent people.  This is largely due to the fact that many government unions are based on “exclusive representation” and forced-dues schemes.

Having gained control of workers by force, union bosses then seek to gain everything else they want by force.  Innocent workers are often swept up in the violence.


The Montgomery, Alabama, Housing Authority resisted demands by government union bosses.  As a result, there was an outbreak of tire slashing and gunshots.  A dozen apartments in the Gibbs Village Project were nearly destroyed.  In many cases, vandals had keys, suggesting this was an inside job — maintenance union militants.


In Chicago, Illinois, Thomas Moskal, boss of a Teamsters union local, was charged for punching and kicking Deputy Streets and Sanitation Commissioner John J. Halpin, breaking his cheekbone and inflicting other injuries.


In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a municipal union militant reportedly threw a manhole cover through the windshield of the car of a Southwestern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority supervisor.  Other militants rolled over a supervisor’s convertible sports car.   Common Pleas Judge Petrese B. Tucker convicted Richard Kervin for the City Hall beating of a man who tried to go to work during a municipal employees strike.  The victim, Robert Dunn, 54, suffered brain damage and a stroke.


When Marshalltown, Iowa, officials decided to privatize food service at a nursing home for veterans, government union militants trashed the facility.  Private contractor J.A. Jones Management Services discovered “body powder scattered over a patient’s floor, a broken hand railing and shelf, toothpaste splattered on walls, chocolate pudding spread around a toilet, emptied soap dispensers, lotion sprayed on walls, and protective guards removed from floor fans. . . .”


Santa Clara County, California, union bosses ordered social workers, probation officers and service employees on strike.  Fights were instigated by union toughs when dedicated social workers tried to continue working.  Strike victims were treated at local hospitals.


Two Atlanta members of the Laborers International Union (LIU), armed with shotguns, rifles and pistols, tried to ambush a Dekalb County bus carrying sanitation workers to work during a strike.  Fortunately, there was a police stake-out and the militants were caught, but only after a shoot-out with police.


Striking municipal union militants in San Francisco harassed a plumbing contractor who was repairing a sabotaged 30‑inch water main in Golden Gate Park.  Militants made threatening phone calls and flipped over four cars and trucks.


Service Employees International Union (SEIU) militants in Flint, Michigan, dumped nails in the driveway of the Flint School District maintenance headquarters, resulting in 21 flat tires.  As the dispute dragged on, more than 50 pounds of nails were dumped in the driveway to disable vehicles.


About 30 sanitation union militants, some armed with billy clubs, baseball bats and sawed-off hockey sticks, prevented garbage trucks in Wilmington, Delaware, from entering the New Castle County landfill.


Dearborn, Michigan, union militants attacked the driver of a private garbage truck contracted to pick up city garbage.  Several vehicles carrying shouting militants followed the truck, forced the driver to stop, then beat him.


Militants attacked working people when Oakland, California, Locals 444 and 2019 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union went on strike.  A union goon sprayed a caustic substance at two men leaving the East Bay Municipal Utilities District Yard, causing them severe pain.  Militant hooligans also threw eggs and beer cans at employees who wanted to work.


Ray Corson, former president of the guard employees union, admitted he had tampered with fuel gauges of a number of aircraft in Bangor, Maine.


As the above cases clearly illustrate, government union violence is reported everywhere — in big cities and small towns, on the East Coast, the West Coast and the heartland in between.  Every type of government union is involved.  The root of government union violence is compulsory unionism.  Without compulsory unionism, union bosses couldn’t “strap their members to the mast.”

Why Politicians Refuse to Stand Up to Union Bosses

Politicians who owe their political lives to government union bosses cannot say “no” to them.  The politicians depend on Big Labor for manpower during election campaigns, for cold cash, and for all kinds of “in-kind” election help.

During the 1992 Congressional campaign, two of the top four political action committees (PACs) were unions — the Teamsters union and the National Education Association teacher union.   In Ohio, 10 of the 15 biggest PACs belong to Big Labor.  AFSCME alone accounted for three of them.   The Michigan Education Association (MEA) teacher union is the state’s largest single‑interest lobbying organization.

In the 1996 races, Big Labor accounted for 18 of the top 50 federal campaign contributors, with AFSCME and NEA bosses at the top of the list.

As important as these PACs are, union bosses spend about ten times as much money from forced dues on political campaigns.  Plus, many jurisdictions legally permit government union bosses to call strikes which throttle government services.  For example, when government union bosses ordered Philadelphia garbage collectors on strike, some 80 million pounds of foul garbage piled up in 90° summer heat.

Where strikes are illegal, the union bosses are seldom prosecuted for ordering one.  In any case, government union bosses can resort to other intimidating tactics such as work slowdowns or scare tactics.  Police union bosses in Nassau County, NY; Stamford, CT; Brownsville, TX and Baltimore, MD have run advertising campaigns which suggest that violent crime will soar if the union bosses don’t get their way.   Police union bosses in Washington, D.C. threatened an advertising campaign aimed at scaring away tourists.

The fact is, government union bosses’ demands go beyond traditional terms and conditions of employment.  Union bosses demand more government spending.  They push outrageous featherbedding onto the government sector.  They skew services for their convenience rather than that of taxpayers.  To carry out this agenda, government union bosses have amassed political power unrivaled by any other interest group.

For these reasons, citizen control of local government in many cities and counties is largely an illusion.  “The  diminution of sovereignty,” reports economist Leo Troy,

has occurred most at the local level of government, where employment is also largest.  Paradoxically, collective bargaining has reduced sovereignty most at the level of government closest to the electorate, local government.  One probable reason for this is the diffusion of large number of governmental units at the local level; another is the proximity of local officials to unions…and therefore their vulnerability to political pressure.

All this power ripped from the people by union bosses violates the most sacred principles of American liberty.  The U.S. Constitution, the most successful means ever devised for limiting government power, places sovereignty with the people.  Yet the people do not vote on whether union bosses control government services.

So the question remains, who’s in control, the government or government union czars?

Where there is compulsory unionism, government shares power with union bosses.  And over time, the union bosses’ share of power steadily increases.  Because of this, many local governments are losing touch with the needs of the people.  Cities are going broke, and the quality of service is eroding.  Because of the spread of compulsory unionism, the cost of government at all levels — especially local and state — is skyrocketing.

Who pays that cost?  You do.


Chapter 5

Taxes, Taxes, Taxes:  The Cost of Government-sector Unionism

“ … citizens should be entitled to something more than the kind of ritualistic blackmail which offers the taxpayers a choice of uncollected garbage, closed firehouses and rioting ex-police officers for higher taxes.”

— Roderick L. O’Connor, President of the Citizens Budget Commission Inc.

“Our whole civilization rests on the fact that men have always succeeded in beating off the attack of the redistributors.”

— Ludwig von Mises, Socialism

“Transfer of a service from private to public hands doubles the cost of production.”

— The Bureaucratic Rule of Two

Teacher Jim Belhumeur worked to provide the best possible education for his students.  He had no interest in the National Education Association (NEA) teacher union’s politics.  He did not agree with most of the political positions taken by the union officials and voted against the radical political candidates whom they backed.  He especially disagreed with the union officials’ constant push for higher taxes.

So, when overburdened Massachusetts taxpayers revolted in 1990, Belhumeur favored the $5 billion property tax rebate ballot initiative.  He figured he had been paying high taxes long enough.

But the teacher union officials were quick to defend their place at the public trough.  “This is the most important campaign in MTA [Massachusetts Teachers Association] history,” began a trainer’s manual for militant unionists working against the ballot initiative.

To succeed in their anti-taxpayer campaign, the National Education Association teacher union operatives quickly helped the MTA politicos mobilize opposition.  They spent hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of illegally confiscated, forced union dues on phone banks, door-to-door canvasses and a massive get-out-the-vote drive.  They victimized hard-working people like Jim Belhumeur.

For three months in 1990, the MTA union officials put all other union business on hold as they turned the union into a ferocious political machine.  On election day, the union officials’ forced dues campaign prevailed, and the tax rebate went down to defeat.


Once union bosses gain monopoly control of government workers, featherbedding, wasteful work rules and strikes abound.  Taxpayers pay the price.

Since compulsory unionism took off in the government sector, taxes at all levels have skyrocketed.  In fact, after adjusting for inflation, from 1970 to 1995 taxes leaped 80% at the federal level, and nearly 90% at the state and local levels.

The reason this happens is simple.  Government gets its revenue from taxes.  If the costs of government go up, politicians must either raise taxes or go into debt.  Most do both.  And, of course, debt must be paid for with future tax dollars.

Politicians go along with higher taxes, despite often overwhelming public opposition, because they take the path of least resistance.  And since union bosses pose the greatest resistance — with their political machines, strike weapon, and fat forced-dues political war chests — politicians take the path of increased budgets, deficits, and taxes.

The vicious tax-and-spend cycle which this produces begins with monopoly bargaining, continues with forced dues, jumps to featherbedding, and goes on to add excessive and wasteful work rules.  Around contract renewal time comes the threat of committing a strike.

Each new contract puts more money in the pockets of union bosses.  After this, government budgets fall into the red.  Taxes are raised.  Businesses lose money and are forced to lay off employees.  Inflation rises.  Families take home less money.  Some people move out of the state or local jurisdiction.  Tax revenue falls.  Then union bosses demand politicians raise taxes again.

The next union-boss contract is likely to have more of the same (gaining power over government, featherbedding and wasteful and excessive work rules) plus added wages and benefits due to the higher cost of living.  While this treadmill is run, union bosses strengthen their grip on workers and politicians.

Arbitrators Take Power and Money from the People

Another Big Labor scam is to sponsor laws that take key financial decisions out of the hands of elected officials or administrators by requiring that disputes with government unions be settled by unelected outside arbitrators.  Many of these arbitrators are Big Labor flunkies, especially those from the American Association of Arbitrators (AAA).  In fact, no member of the AAA’s Board of Directors has a pro-Right to Work track record.

The AAA’s rules — shaped by four union lawyers — require all arbitrators to be endorsed by four unions and have worked in union cases at least 10 times per year.  These rules stack the deck in Big Labor’s favor.  Elected officials and administrators are required to accept these decisions even when an arbitrator orders a city to spend more money than it can afford.


In the three years after the City of Detroit passed Public Act 312 (1969) — which allows municipal police and fire unions to file for compulsory arbitration of labor disputes — binding arbitration rang up $50 million in additional labor costs.  This led a newspaper to report, “Binding Arbitration Leads Detroit Toward Bankruptcy.”

Commenting on the subject, Mayor Young acknowledged his mistake in having cosponsored the legislation years before, “We know that compulsory arbitration has been a failure.  Slowly, inexorably, compulsory arbitration destroys sensible fiscal management. . . . The arbitrators,” continued Mayor Young, “seem to believe there is no limit to how much of our money they should spend.”   In 1980, Detroit faced a $140 million budget deficit.

To cut back the deficit, Mayor Young ordered heavy layoffs and pay cuts for remaining workers (except those workers protected by binding arbitration).  The city’s work force would reach its lowest level since the Depression.

Boasting of their profit, firefighters wrote in their magazine, “we firefighters, at $25,000 plus a year [in 1980 dollars], (are) the highest paid in the world.  And we did it without losing a day’s work.”

Mayor Young saw things somewhat differently.  He said compulsory arbitration awards “have caused more damage to the public service in Detroit than the strikes they were designed to prevent.”

Still union bosses were not satisfied. Big Labor pushed through the legislature a so-called “right-to-strike” bill that authorized and encouraged all government workers to strike and would force the city of Detroit to be exploited further under the compulsory arbitration law.

Cause and Effect:  Compulsory Unionism and Government Bankruptcies

At some point, spiraling taxes, cost of living increases, fewer jobs, and fewer successful businesses reach critical mass:  financial crisis.

Over and over again, compulsory unionism has driven state and local governments to the edge of financial ruin.  In some places, union bosses drove governments over the cliff.


Government union bosses were largely responsible for calling the shots that eventually led the city of New York to financial collapse.  They picked political candidates and flexed their muscles by ordering strikes which paralyzed the city.

By 1967, Mayor John Lindsay signed Executive Order No. 52 which, in effect, handed management prerogatives like “workload and manning” over to union bosses.  Big Labor never looked back.

In the 1970s, Mayor Ed Koch complained about how discipline broke down because all but 2,000 of his managers belonged to a union — the managers themselves were under the thumb of union bosses.  As author Ken Auletta put it, union bosses “gained management powers and became partners in the city’s governance.”   Virtually every year, taxes went up.  Every year, spending went up more.

All sorts of accounting tricks were used to cover up New York’s financial crisis and raise more money, from bonds on future tax revenues to a loan on $3.5 billion worth of pension funds.   Then there was the old trick of calling operating expenses “capital expenses,” for which bonds could be issued.

New York issued billions of dollars in bonds.  Many were backed by city-owned abandoned buildings which didn’t yield any tax revenue.  The deceptions became so complex that even city leaders had no idea what was going on.

In 1975, New York City hit the wall.  No one would buy its bonds.  It looked as if New York City was going to become bankrupt and default on its debts.   On June 11th, the New York State legislature created a new state agency — the Municipal Assistance Corporation — to help the city with its cash flow problems.  The “assistance” of this state agency prevented the city from defaulting on nearly $1 billion in notes due that day.

By September, the city was again near bankruptcy.  The State Legislature approved another $2.3 billion in aid.  All New York state taxpayers now footed the bill for the city’s compulsory unionism.

Still, New York was in debt.  Again, officials raided workers’ pension funds (with the approval of teacher union kingpins).   It is ironic that union bosses used New York City government sector workers to gain control of the city, only to drive it to near fiscal collapse and cause worker pension account raiding.  Now, if the city went belly-up, workers would stand to lose their jobs and a hefty part of their pensions.

Again, the state stepped in.  Under emergency provisions, the state took financial management out of the hands of local politicians and established an Emergency Financial Control Board.  This unelected body was directed to erase New York City’s annual deficit.

As a condition to President Ford’s approval for a federal bail out of additional debts, the State Legislature approved a multi-million-dollar tax increase to fund annual aid to balance the City’s budget.

Then on December 9th, New York City and State officials got their wish:  President Ford signed legislation authorizing $2.3 billion in loans annually (until 1978) to New York City.

In the end, New York City — whose budget is more than the state’s budget and whose expenses are second only to the U.S. Government’s — burdened all Americans, and especially New Yorkers, with additional taxes to pay for the bailout.

Taxes were raised, pensions were raided, New York City temporarily lost its power to direct its financial future — all because of union-boss abusive control and mismanagement.


Fed up paying ever higher taxes, San Jose, California, School District taxpayers revolted.  Union bosses refused to cut back.   As a result, in 1983 the District went bankrupt because it could not meet obligations imposed by its government contracts.


Bridgeport, Connecticut declared bankruptcy in 1991.  Government union contracts — accounting for 60% of the city’s annual budget — made it politically impossible for officials to cut even $12 million from a $308 million budget.

Consequently, financial decisions were taken out of the hands of local officials and turned over to bankruptcy court judges.   Taxpayers, the elderly, the poor and government workers suffered most.

Case Study:  Philadelphia’s Financial Collapse

While raising taxes 19 times in the 1980’s, Philadelphia lost 350,000 of its middle-class population to neighboring suburbs.

The reason for the exodus was poor government services and high taxes.  Annual taxes on a family of four earning $25,000 were over $3,000, the third highest tax burden in the nation.  The exodus led to less revenue, due to the smaller tax base.  So taxes were raised again.  More middle-class flight occurred.

Despite the mounting financial crisis, union bosses forced through the City Council their compulsory unionism agenda; featherbedding, wasteful work rules, and wage hikes of 8% a year.   In all, government union contracts accounted for over half of Philadelphia’s budget.

Then in 1990, the crisis became clear — the city could not sell bonds to continue financing its debt.  Philadelphia’s credit rating fell to “highly speculative.”  In January 1991, Philadelphia nearly ground to a halt.  The once proud city of nearly 5 million people deteriorated into an urban jungle of rotting garbage, crime, and dangerous streets.

The city also had a $248 million budget deficit.   Bankruptcy loomed.  The state stepped in with a financial oversight agency (Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority), to help Philadelphia borrow an immediate $475 million (now being paid off with tax dollars of all Pennsylvanians).

In 1991 Edward G. Rendell was elected the new Philadelphia Mayor.  Despite the loans, the city remained on the brink of bankruptcy.

Mayor Rendell went on the offensive.  He targeted wasteful work rules, wanted to privatize certain functions, and make government more efficient.   Union bosses resisted.  After they rejected his “last best offer,” the union pharaohs ordered government workers out on strike:

[Mayor Rendell] activated a strike command center in the Fire Administration Building, which had been stacked with food in case strikers blocked entrances.  Two hundred City Hall vehicles were moved to a secret location to thwart union vandals.  The city switched its radios to a different frequency so they could not be jammed.  Non-union employees were ready to take over essential services, such as maintaining water and sewage plants and health centers.

Mayor Rendell went on TV to inform the public of the seriousness of the problem and the wastefulness that resulted from union-boss contracts.  After just 16 hours, the union bosses capitulated.   Fed up with high taxes, high crime, and filthy streets, Philadelphians rose up against the strike.

The Costs of Monopoly Labor Demands

Columbus, Ohio, state union bosses threatened to strike unless they could force a $1 an hour pay raise, fully paid hospitalization, and a cost of living payment.

Just two years before, when the Ohio General Assembly gave state workers a 20-cent-per-hour raise the state had to appropriate $56 million dollars to fund the increase.   This union boss demand would force taxpayers to pay an additional $280 million, not counting the other points of the ultimatum to cover added fringe benefits.


Since President Kennedy’s Executive Order 10988, the watershed of government sector compulsory unionism, there has been a continual rise in government spending and increased taxes at all levels. (See chart X for a breakdown of state, local and federal taxes and expenditures.)

Skyrocketing government spending is one part of the story.  Another factor is strikes.  The Public Service Research Council’s study on government sector bargaining and strikes shows that in states that did not have compulsory unionism laws, the average number of government sector strikes per year was 1.34.

However, where compulsory unionism legislation was passed the average almost quadrupled to 5.00 strikes per year.   As a direct result of compulsory unionism, the number of government sector strikes (during the 1960s and 1970s) increased nationally by a total of 1,870.  This included 150,942 workers and equaled nearly 5 million man-days.

All of this cost taxpayers.  Not only are there lost employee work days, but in addition, expensive legal counsel is retained to cope with disturbances.  Additional police are needed to control violence, managers are taken away from their jobs to deal with basic functions, and public service is hindered or stopped.  The human cost of such strikes is less tangible, but no less real.

Teacher strikes for example, negatively effect SAT scores, attendance, and dropout statistics.   What price can be put on destroying children’s and taxpayers’ trust in government (or authority in general)?

Schools especially show the effects of compulsory unionism.  Since 1961, when compulsory unionization began in public schools, the percentage of teachers in “collective bargaining” units rose from 0% to 80% by 1992.   In that time period, per-pupil spending skyrocketed, funded primarily by ever-increasing property taxes.  Despite the huge increase in funding, SAT combined scores dropped nearly 100 points.

In response, SAT tests have been made easier.  And despite such a scandalous decline in scores, the teacher union bosses want more power, more money, and more taxes.

According to the Alexis de Tocqueville Institute, the NEA’s political agenda for the 104th Congress (1995-1996), had it all been passed, would have increased federal spending by $702 billion per year — or $10,554 in added annual taxes for a family of four.

The Combined Costs of Compulsory Unionism

One way to measure the cost of all the negative effects of government sector monopoly labor is to distinguish the total costs of government by state in relation to the government employees’ Right to Work.  According to a 1992 study, government expenses and debt in a Right to Work state is $1,742 less (per capita) than in a non-Right to Work state.   Put another way, government in a non-Right to Work state is 55.6% more expensive (per capita) than government in a Right to Work state.   In terms of taxes, taxpayer burden is $592 less (per capita) in a Right to Work state than in a non-Right to Work State.

Another study also indicates the direct relationship between government sector unionization and government spending.  According to the Spring, 1995 Government Union Review, states with high levels of government sector unionism have a per capita spending of $2,455 compared to $1,884 in states with low levels of unionization.

Based on either study, with less money collected and spent and with lower debt in Right to Work states, the connection is clear that compulsory unionism is the key factor in costly government.

In fact, Dr. James T. Bennett — editor of the Journal of Labor Research — makes this connection even easier to understand.  He estimated that families in non-Right to Work states pay $2,852 more in taxes and higher living costs every year than families in Right to Work states.

Government sector compulsory unionism leads to forced dues, featherbedding, wasteful work rules, poorer service, and strikes.  These activities lead to skyrocketing costs of government, spiraling state, local, and federal taxes, cost of living increases, fewer successful businesses, fewer jobs, and ultimately financial ruin.


Chapter 6

“Political Action First: The Rise of Government Teachers Unions”

 “The ultimate goal of the NEA is to tap the legal, political and economic powers of the U.S. Congress.  We want leaders and staff with sufficient clout that they may roam the halls of Congress and collect votes to re-order the priorities of the United States of America.”

— Terry Herndon, former executive director, NEA

 “The union intends to control who enters, who stays, and who leaves the [teaching] profession.”

— George Fisher, former president, NEA

“I need an entirely new list of superlatives to express adequately my professional and personal opinion of her.  She is an outstanding teacher.  Her students love her and learn from her.”

With an evaluation like this, Illinois educator Susan LaVine was clearly an asset to her school.  A few months later, she was fired from her job because she refused to pay the NEA-imposed compulsory union dues.  The NEA teacher union boss in charge of that area forced the school board to fire her on the grounds of “deficient and unsatisfactory performances as a teacher.”


Mary Jane Kirby was willing to start at the bottom of the McKeesport, Pennsylvania, Area School District pay scale.  Despite her seven years of teaching experience, the school was not allowed to hire her.  That was because according to the contract that the school board signed with the teacher union bosses in that area, a teacher with that much experience must be paid more than base pay or not be hired at all.

The McKeesport school board, already strapped for money, could not afford to pay Mrs. Kirby the salary that the union bosses demanded — over $9,000 more a year.  The fact that Mrs. Kirby was willing to be paid at the base rate did not matter to the union bosses.  She was denied employment.


When the Rhinebeck, New York, high school band and chorus planned to attend a music festival, the local union boss — Mark Famigliette, President of the Rhinebeck Teachers Association — said that the four teachers who wanted to volunteer as chaperones could not go.

According to the union chief, the teachers were not allowed to volunteer.  They would have to be paid.  This meant that the students — who were raising money to pay their own way — would have to come up with the additional $1,266 needed to pay for the teachers.

The teacher union boss’s ultimatum to the students: either raise the extra money or cancel the trip.


New York City’s Board of Education was forced to spend five years and over $185,000 in legal costs to fire teacher Jay Dubner.  The reason for the firing was simple.  Mr. Dubner was arrested, convicted, and imprisoned for selling $7,000 worth of cocaine.  Incredibly, teacher union bosses gave Mr. Dubner full use of union forced dues money for his defense.

While the teacher union bosses prolonged his public employment, Mr. Dubner, a convicted criminal, continued to receive paychecks from the New York City Board of Education, which were sent to his new address at the Sullivan Correctional Center.

The Rise in Power of Teacher Union Bosses

Teachers first formed a professional society in 1857 “to elevate the character and advance the interests of the profession of teaching and to promote the cause of public education in the United States.”   Since then, teacher union bosses have replaced those noble goals with an insatiable appetite for forced union dues and political power.

No longer do teacher union bosses even bother to represent teachers’ interests.  Now teacher union bosses try to expand their organization’s compulsory membership — using the coercive power of government — and thus shove more money into their gaping pockets.

The story of the rise in power of the teacher union bosses is primarily the story of the National Education Association (NEA).  However, as is noted, its smaller rival for compulsory power, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), also shares responsibility.

The NEA began in 1857 as the National Teachers Association (NTA).  Its primary focus was on instruction and curriculum issues.  The name changed in 1870, when the NTA merged with the National Association of School Superintendents and the American Normal School Association.

By merging with these other nonprofit groups, this organization was awarded a valuable federal charter by Congress (The same charter given to the Red Cross and the Boy Scouts).  Today that privilege, which has never been given to any other union, frees up some $2,000,000 a year to buy more political clout.

By the end of World War II, the NEA’s membership grew to include about half the educators in the United States. The NEA’s purpose was still the betterment of teachers and students.  The NEA was still a professional association.  Membership was voluntary.  That all changed in the 1960s when militants seized control of the NEA and transformed it into a union that soon became larger than either the Teamsters or the United Mine Workers.

After these union bosses seized power, they began to demand that government force all teachers to accept union representation and pay membership dues in order to keep their jobs.  By coercing membership, NEA teacher union bosses gained monopoly bargaining power in 34 states and the District of Columbia.  Through forced union dues, NEA teacher union bosses now stuff an estimated minimum of $742 million each year into NEA union coffers.

This radical power grab ­— the plan to use government to force union membership on teachers ­— began in earnest in 1961.  In that year, the late Albert Shanker, boss of the AFT teachers union, strong-armed the New York City’s school board into holding a referendum among the city’s teachers to decide whether or not they wanted to give union officials monopoly bargaining power over all public school teachers.

Since a majority of the teachers in New York City were already unionized, the referendum was passed and compulsory unionism was imposed on the remaining New York City teachers.  Overnight, AFT union brass corralled over 50,000 New York City school teachers and millions of dollars in compulsory union dues.

Responding to this dramatic explosion of political power and forced dues by the AFT teachers union, NEA union bosses also decided to pursue government-coerced compulsory unionism.  It wasn’t long before NEA teacher union bosses were calling strikes, intimidating teachers, and of course, pulling in buckets of forced union dues.

By the late 1970s, the U.S. Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service finally recognized the NEA as a union.  But they did not take away the NEA’s specially granted charter.  This was despite the fact that by 1973, the NEA teacher union bosses had already gained considerable control over the American school system, with over 52 NEA state affiliates and 13,250 local affiliates.  With that kind of power, the NEA’s number of dues payers soared from 713,994 in 1959 to more than 2.2 million in 1996.

On January 19, 1962, President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order 10988, which permitted compulsory unionism for certain federal employees.  The order spurred government unions across the country to seek state laws promoting compulsory unionism.  The largest and most powerful of these unions was the NEA.  Not surprisingly, the NEA teacher union bosses led the charge.

Service Fees or “Fair Share”: Forced Dues

Charleen Sciambi was a thirteen-year veteran of the Freemont, California, school system.  According to the Foreign Language Teachers Association, she was the best foreign language teacher in the state.

But she wouldn’t pay the union bosses’ “service fees” (forced dues).  So teacher union bosses had her fired.  Mrs. Sciambi appealed her dismissal and won reinstatement, but she was not able to stop the union bosses from taking her money.

Rather than compromise her principles, she resigned.  In a resignation letter to her students, Charleen wrote,  “My employer is confiscating my wages without my permission.  This is the status of a slave.  How can I return to you in September and teach you to stand tall as a free man or woman if I cannot?”

For her courage, the local teacher union boss called her “a big hypocrite.”


Many teachers don’t want union boss representation.  Jeff Bush, a chemistry teacher from California, spoke for thousands when he said, “I don’t believe in striking, so to me, giving that money to the union is a waste.  I’d rather spend my $550 on supplies for the kids in my classroom.”

To defend against the pleas for freedom from teachers like Mr. Bush, the NEA teacher union bosses smear these non-unionized members as mere cheapskates looking for a “free ride.”

Many folks get confused by the union bosses’ rhetoric.  Diann Fletcher, an elementary teacher from the same area as Mr. Bush, sighs that she is  “tired of freeloaders. . . .  As long as [union opponents] receive the same benefits, the same pay raises, the same grievance process that I do, I don’t see why I should pay for it and they don’t.”

The answer is simple.  Dianne Fletcher believes in the union and volunteered to join, but Mr. Bush believes that he should have the freedom to join — or not to join — any organization he wants.

Some teachers may actually make more by bargaining individually instead of as a group.  For instance, because mathematics and science teachers are in demand, they could often negotiate higher salaries if they were not limited by the salary schedule fixed and enforced by teacher union bosses through their “exclusive representation” power.

A 1981 nationwide survey showed that 82 percent of responding educators favored Right to Work laws, laws that ban “agency shop” provisions or compulsory dues.  Of those responding, 72 percent were themselves teacher union members.

Even though a sizable portion of its members support Right to Work laws, the NEA teacher union bosses take exactly the opposite position.  In 1987, the NEA teacher union bosses supported the “Repeal of the [Right to Work portion] of the Taft-Hartley Act,” which, when repealed, would help bring about a national compulsory unionism law.   So much for democracy.

Forced Dues for Politics

In 1974, the NEA teacher union bosses started to deduct more money out of the paychecks of the teachers.  This time the deduction was even justified with claims that it would be applied toward “union representation” and clearly was earmarked for the union bosses’ own radical political agenda.

In 1993, the average dues for the NEA (including local affiliates) was about $400.  The majority of this money is spent on the union bosses’ radical political agenda –- tens of millions every year.

Those teachers that do not want to pay the NEA teacher union bosses for political programs they disagree with must file a written form to the NEA teacher union bosses to get their money back.  The NEA teacher union bosses call this obstacle the “reverse check-off system.”

But despite recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings, the burden of excluding the political portion of compulsory fees falls almost entirely on the employee.  Union bosses have hordes of high-priced lawyers to shred employees who assert their right not to have compulsory dues spent on politics.

But even when they do lose the fight and are forced to refund the teachers’ money, teacher union bosses find ways around the law.  They have not only been able to take this money from forced dues-paying teachers; they have also tried to hide (and keep) money that lawfully belongs to the teachers.

In 1977, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) sued the NEA, after the NEA teacher union bosses refused to give back forced union dues used for politics.  The NEA teacher union bosses were ordered to refund nearly a million dollars to teachers.

Even with a judicial order, the NEA teacher union bosses only returned $50,000, supposedly because the NEA teacher union bosses were “unable” to return the rest.  After several court appearances, the NEA teacher union bosses were only given a $75,000 fine, illegally netting them well over a half a million dollars.

Teachers’ Rights

Since 1977, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has made great strides toward protecting the rights of government sector teachers from further encroachment by union despots.  While the Foundation’s attorneys have won a string of landmark Supreme Court cases curtailing teacher union boss power over teachers’ pocketbooks and livelihoods, some abuses continue, and some battles are yet to be won.

How Teacher Union Bosses End-run Teachers’ Constitutional Rights

In 1977, a unanimous Supreme Court held in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education that no government sector teacher may be required to pay, as a condition of employment, for political causes with which they disagree.  The Court nonetheless continued to defer final judgment until “arbitration” – internal union proceedings meant to circumvent the federal court system – were completed “as a possible means of settling the dispute.”

As a later Foundation-won Supreme Court decision would hold, these internal union proceedings are totally inadequate as a means of protecting teachers’ rights.  In 1986, the Court held in Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson that teachers have the right to object to internal union proceedings, because they don’t provide a “reasonably prompt decision by an impartial decisionmaker.”   In other words, Hudson struck down teacher union bosses’ use of internal union proceedings to drag their feet and then come to a decision in their own favor.  The simple word for that is “railroading.”

It works like this:  In most non-Right to Work states, the law coerces teachers to pay an amount equal to teacher union dues – which the union calls an “agency fee” or mis-named “fair-share” arrangement.  However, these payments must be limited to the teacher’s pro-rated compulsory share of collective bargaining costs only.  In other words, thanks to Abood and Hudson, teachers have the right to cut off the use of their forced dues for radical union-boss politics and other non-bargaining activities.

That begs the question:  Who gets to figure out just what their forced share is?  The union-boss answer, of course, is “we do.”  But the law says otherwise.  Teachers have the right to question the union officials’ estimates and demand a look at the books by an independent auditor if the teachers deem it necessary.  But the teacher union brass never voluntarily open their books to the light of day.  If they do, and the law gets a look at their numbers, chances are high they’ll have to cough up money from their bloated political war chest for their over-stated “agency fee.”  In court, that’s the frequent outcome.

So teacher union lawyers have concocted a clever smoke screen to shield their union-boss clients from the light of day: the so-called “arbitration” process.  By law, the union bears the burden of justifying its spending to the teachers and offering the nonmembers an opportunity to challenge the union’s calculations before and impartial decisionmaker.  In practice, though, things are a bit different.

In one California Teachers Association (CTA) proceeding, for example, the teacher union lawyers conducted litigation by ambush.  To “comply” with requirements to show their books and other documents to the teachers’ attorneys before the hearing, CTA union lawyers made the documents available all right -– at three o’clock the day before the hearing.  A stack of exhibits four inches high wasn’t produced until during hearing, leaving these unfortunate counselors looking puzzled and asking, “What’s this?”  And given the hearing’s time limit, CTA lawyers ran down the clock presenting their case, leaving the teachers’ representatives very little time for cross-examination of witnesses.

And these union proceedings are inadequate in many other ways.

Following the Hudson decision, Mitchell Kraus, lawyer for the Brotherhood of Railway, Airline and Steamship Clerks union (BRAC/AFL-CIO), urged the American Arbitration Association to write new special rules which would allow AAA-appointed, and union-approved, arbitrators to act as the “decision maker” of employees’ “agency fee” challenges.  Kraus had no trouble persuading AAA officials, many of whom were union officials.

Far from being the “independent decision maker” required by the Supreme Court, the design of AAA-administered union-fee “arbitration” circumvents the protective Hudson doctrine.  This is due in great part to the structure of the AAA’s rules, which plays into the hands of union officials who, more often than not, wish to prevent access to evidence relevant to teachers’ and other workers’ challenges of “agency fee” amounts.  The AAA itself contributes to such outcomes.  For example:

  1. Aside from AAA staffers, the AAA’s rules (on union-fee challenges) were shaped solely by four labor union lawyers: Kraus, Robert Chanin (National Education Association), James Coppess (Communications Workers of America/AFL-CIO), and Lawrence Weinberg (American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees).
  2. The AAA’s Board of Directors is substantially influenced by a large faction of union officials and union lawyers.  In fact, no member of the AAA’s Board of Directors can be found who supports the Right to Work principle.  The AAA’s Board includes the following people:
  1. Bernard Ashe is the top New York lawyer for the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) union.
  2. Don Cameron is the executive director of the National Education Association (NEA) teachers union.
  3. Robert Coulson, former president of the American Arbitration Association.  Coulson has criticized several Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court rulings, saying: “The labor-management community’s ability to manage its own affairs is being threatened by this constant barrage of individual rights decisions.”
  4. Thomas Donahue is the former secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO.
  5. Sandra Feldman is president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) union.
  6. Bernard T. King is a career union lawyer who has often defended compulsory unionism abuses in federal court.
  7. Jay Mazur is the president of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial, and Textile Employees (UNITE).
  8. Gerald W. McEntee is the international president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union.
  9. Betty Southard Murphy is a lifelong management and union lawyer and staunch advocate of compulsory unionism.  During Ronald Reagan’s 1980 search for a suitable Labor Secretary nominee, she was quickly drubbed out of the running for precisely this reason.
  10. Carl M. Sapers is a union lawyer whose law firm represents the NEA in many cases.
  11. Jacob Sheinkman is the former secretary-treasurer of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers (ACW) union.
  12. John Sweeney is president of the AFL-CIO and former president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU)—an aggressive pro-compulsion union known for its militancy.
  13. Robert Tobias is national president of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU).
  14. Judith P. Vladeck is a union lawyer whose law firm represents the International Union of Electronic Workers (IUE) union.

The AAA’s specially-constructed rules governing “agency fee” challenges, or union-fee “arbitrations,” do not follow normal arbitration practices, even those used by the AAA itself under its normal “voluntary labor arbitration” rules:

  1. Ordinarily, arbitration occurs only when the contending parties make a joint request; however, the AAA’s rules permit union officials to invoke union-fee “arbitration” on their own simply by notifying the AAA—even over the objection of individual employees.
  2. Ordinarily, the arbitrator is selected mutually; however, the AAA’s union-fee “arbitration” rules direct that the AAA will impose its own selection.
  3. Ordinarily, the contending parties jointly determine the issues on which the arbitrator will rule; however, the AAA’s union-fee “arbitration” rules specify that union officials will “describe the issues involved.”
  4. AAA arbitrators are paid only if they are chosen to arbitrate a case.  Since employers and unions are the only parties that may choose the arbitrators (employees never have a choice in the matter), in a case between the union and the employee, the arbitrator only needs to be worried about being acceptable to the union in the future.
  5. In all AAA-administered arbitration proceedings, according to AAA rules, the arbitrator “shall be the judge of the relevance and materiality of the evidence offered and conformity to legal rules of evidence shall not be necessary.”  (Emphasis supplied.)
  6. Affidavits may be submitted as evidence, but the arbitrator is required to give them “only such weight as seems proper after consideration of any objection made to its admission.”  (Emphasis supplied.)Taken together, these two rules make it easier for union officials to shield damaging evidence from the workers’ and the arbitrator’s consideration.
  7. AAA-administered proceedings do not comply with normal rules of discovery in litigation.  Rather than allow each side ample opportunity to review and copy relevant documents in advance, the AAA rules only state that each party “shall be afforded an opportunity to examine” such documents.

This could be interpreted very loosely.  What constitutes an “opportunity” or an “examination?”  In a union-fee “arbitration” hearing in California, lawyers representing teachers in a dispute with a teacher union were handed huge stacks of documents less than a full day before the hearing, according to a first-hand observer.

Even worse for the teachers involved, the union lawyers took advantage of the proceeding’s time limit.  By filibustering their case, they effectively cut down the time available for cross-examination of their witnesses. Not surprisingly, the arbitrator eventually issued a ruling rubber-stamping all the union’s claims.

One California teacher wrote that even if she had retained excellent legal assistance, the yearly union-fee “arbitration” process would still remain “an almost insurmountable, ongoing, and burdensome aspect of being a fee payer.”

AAA union-fee “arbitration” rules make it possible for clever union lawyers to “pull a fast one” and get away with it.  If they violate arbitration rules and the workers’ representatives fail to object in writing, the workers “shall be deemed to have waived the right to object.”

Taken as a whole, AAA union-fee “arbitration” rules afford union officials many opportunities to circumvent the intent of the Hudson decision and strongly influence the results of such proceedings in their favor.  On a national scale, this results in a significant sacrifice of employees’ rights and money.

Given such a union-biased structure, and given the degree of influence which union officials exercise on the AAA’s Board of Directors, teachers and other workers have a much more level playing field in the court system, where legal rules of discovery and evidence apply, and there is the opportunity for appeal to higher courts.

Furthermore, “arbitration” proceedings generate decisions which are binding only on the participants in the given case for the given time period; in the court system, the opportunity exists to create legal precedents which are binding on future litigation.  Put another way, the union in future years does not have to follow or obey an “arbitration” award favorable to the objectors, but would have to follow any favorable court decision.

But most importantly, in court, teachers’ and workers’ constitutional rights hold sway.

Federal courts agree with Foundation attorneys about the fallacy of union-fee “arbitration.”  In Bromley v. Michigan Education Association-NEA (1996), the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reiterated the Hudson Court’s assertion that “the agency shop itself impinges on . . . First Amendment interests,”  and that the constitutional safeguards (established by Hudson) help to “insure that the government treads with sensitivity in areas freighted with First Amendment concerns.”

The Bromley decision vacated a district court’s ruling in favor of an AAA-controlled teacher union-fee “arbitration” proceeding, citing the inadequacy of its rules of evidence among other limitations.

In Miller v. Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) (1997), another case brought by Foundation attorneys, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned a district court’s ruling in favor of the internal union proceeding in that case, citing among other reasons that “it may well be, for instance, that the arbitrators chosen by the AAA . . . would not be perceived as typically sympathetic to such plaintiffs (or their counsel).”  In early 1998, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the union’s appeal of Miller, and in May of 1998, the Court ruled 7-2 in favor of more employee freedom.

In the Foundation’s Patterson v. NEA (1997), the Ninth Circuit agreed with the reasoning in Miller and overturned the District Court by ruling that union officials may not require employees to exhaust union-fee “arbitration.”  The NEA has now filed an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Simply put, workers and/or teachers with a Hudson agency fee dispute have a First Amendment right to go to federal court which is better equipped to provide an unbiased “independent decision maker.”

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is currently pursuing over 100 cases against teacher unions, many of which involve Hudson challenges.  Union-fee “arbitrations” are never part of the Foundation attorneys’ legal strategies, precisely because the attorneys seek to protect their clients’ First Amendment and due-process rights in the only place where such rights can be protected — in court.  As the Supreme Court noted in Hudson, “[T]he courts remain available as the ultimate protectors of constitutional rights.”

Moreover, the short-sighted use of union-fee “arbitration” may actually impede or damage legal challenges in the federal courts.

And the foregoing cases, Hudson, Bromley, Patterson, and Miller — all litigated and won by Foundation attorneys — laid the groundwork for even more significant future victories for teachers and workers in the courts.

Many such future victories may already be on their way to eventual appellate-level review.  Of the Foundation’s over 400 cases, many pose the sort of constitutional questions which invite review by appellate courts and by the Supreme Court.

Political Action of the Teacher Union Bosses

For years, the NEA teacher union bosses have been taking the money of hard-working teachers to pay for politics.  Usually, the NEA teacher union bosses’ political spending has nothing at all to do with education or the views of their members.

How NEA Teacher Union Bosses Buy our Government

In 1984, the NEA endorsed Democrat Walter Mondale for President of the United States.  NEA teacher union bosses provided the Mondale for President with campaign staff and money.  Yet surveys show that half of all NEA members voted for Mondale’s opponent, Ronald Reagan.

The NEA teacher union bosses spend a substantial chunk of compulsory dues to buy elections at every level of government.  The most visible expenditures flow through the NEA teacher union political action committee, which in 1992 totaled about $6.5 million.

Moreover, state and local affiliates have their own political action committees which spent another $16 million on political campaigns.

But these expenditures are just the tip of the iceberg.  According to experts, the true amount of money spent on campaigns is almost always at least 10 times the figure openly given by union bosses.    “Soft money,” as it’s often called, is spent on phone banks, printing of campaign literature, busing to the polls (illegal in some states as “voter hauling”), rent for campaign headquarters, and salaries of union campaign “volunteers.”  In fact, experts estimate that in 1990, NEA union bosses’ spending of dues for politics reached $16 million.   And 1990 was not a presidential election year!

Teacher Union Bosses and National Elections

The first presidential candidate the NEA teacher union bosses ever endorsed was Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1976.  Their reward was the creation of the Department of Education.  Afterward, an NEA teacher union official bragged, “We’re the only union with our own Cabinet department.”

With the success of installing Jimmy Carter in the White House, NEA teachers union bosses continued to endorse presidential candidates.  Since 1980, NEA teacher union officials have controlled the largest single bloc of delegates at the Democrat National Convention.  In 1992, about one in eight delegates to the Democratic National Convention was a NEA teacher union member.

Before the 1992 elections, candidate Bill Clinton told an NEA screening committee: “If I become President, you’ll be my partners.”  With the 1992 presidential election only two weeks away, the National Education Association teacher union bosses loaned out one-fifth of its national headquarters staff to the Clinton/Gore campaign for round the clock campaign work.   After the 1992 inaugural, the NEA sent Bill Clinton and Al Gore posters to 26,000 schools.

Teacher Union Boss Power in State Elections

In 1983, the Wall Street Journal reported on the NEA teacher union bosses of Illinois:  “The [union bosses’] unbridled success in milking the legislature for costly special interest legislation is especially remarkable in view of the fact that teachers comprise less than 1% of the population.”

In 1987, Education Week reported that a large majority of the New Jersey state legislature believed that the NEA’s state affiliate was the most powerful lobby in New Jersey.  When asked to name the top three lobbies in New Jersey, over 84% of the state legislators included the New Jersey affiliate of the NEA in that group.   “Nobody even sits in the same ball park [with the teacher union bosses],” was the comment of one New Jersey state senator.  “A lot of the legislators are afraid of them,” added another.

In Colorado, the NEA’s political action committees spent $533,957 on the legislation of that state alone.  Over $180,000 was spent on the defeat of a school voucher issue, and over $83,000 was donated to different branches of the Colorado Democratic Party.  Most of the rest was spent on state and local campaigns.  One must remember that this money is only the tip of the iceberg.

Local School Boards — Teacher Union Boss Targets

In 1988, the Long Beach, California, school board refused union bosses’ demands to force teachers to pay union dues. Felice Strauss, president of the local National Education Association subsidiary, went to war with the board.

With a slate of pro-Big Labor candidates, Felice Strauss targeted the board for a hostile takeover.

After the takeover succeeded, Strauss boasted, “It wasn’t until we changed the composition of the school board” that the board agreed to give the union a forced-dues contract.


The NEA teacher union bosses are not satisfied with control over teachers, presidents, governors, and legislators.  They want complete control of local school boards, too.

Conflict of interest laws usually prevent union members from serving on a school board where they work.  Therefore, teacher union bosses simply run in neighboring counties and towns.

The NEA teacher union bosses pour tens of thousands of dollars into these local school board races —- far more than their opponents.

For example, during the 1989 elections in West San Fernando Valley, California, Julie Korenstien sought her first full term as a member of the school board with strong backing from the teacher union bosses.  With this backing, she was able to raise a total of $74,584, more than three times what her opponent raised.

School boards often have low voter turnouts, making it easier for the NEA teacher union bosses and their candidates to prevail.

In a 1991 Los Angeles school board election, for instance, voter turnout was less than 15%.  The NEA teacher union bosses picked candidates, promoted the candidates, and helped get voters to the polls.

The result of all this electioneering is more elected officials who owe their livelihood to the union bosses.  Payment of that debt comes in support for teacher union bosses’ programs and budget hikes.  In the places where the teacher union bosses have been able to gain a majority of these supporters, they have free rein.

The best example of this was in 1993 in Kalkaska, Michigan.  Even though the average teacher salary in the town was $10,000 higher than the average income of the entire town, teacher union bosses were not satisfied.  The teacher union bosses wanted a 6% increase every year for 3 years.  In a referendum, the town’s taxpayers refused to pay that much.  So, the teacher union bosses instructed their lackeys on the school board to shut down the school system.

Two months before school was due to let out, the NEA-controlled school board cancelled the rest of the school year.  “We coordinated the whole thing when the [shutdown] decision was made,” said Allan Short, the chief lobbyist for the Michigan Education Association.

Not only were the Michigan Education Association teacher union bosses able to receive their demands, but they were also able to send a clear message to parents and taxpayers around the country.  The message:  “Don’t even think about interfering with our agenda.”  So complete was the takeover of the Kalkaska school board that when an editor following the story for the Detroit News called the school board for their opinion, he was referred to the local NEA office.

Uniserv:  The NEA Union’s Paid Political Machine

NEA union bosses have yet another political ace up their sleeves.  It’s called “Uniserv,” and it is a well-oiled political action machine with over 1,500 professional, salaried campaign operatives, and tentacles in every congressional district in the land.

The “official” purpose of Uniserv is to assist with collective bargaining.  But even a light scratching of that veneer’s surface reveals the program’s true function.  Uniserv operatives follow specific, well-defined procedures to organize strikes and strike violence, cultivate a hate-the-boss attitude among teachers and keep it alive, and orchestrate political action to increase teacher union boss influence power and influence over the political process.  With at least one Uniserv agent for every 1,200 teachers and with Uniserv presence in every Congressional district that influence is considerable.

The Uniserv philosophy – the set of principles which guide the training of Uniserv operatives – is the brainchild of the late Saul Alinsky, a radical leftist union organizer whose methods centered on conflict and cultivating the hate-the-boss mindset among workers.  Alinsky, in fact, ran the early Uniserv training programs himself.

A Uniserv training manual, “Alinsky for Teacher Organizers,” explicitly describes methods that are specifically not geared toward solving problems – the important goal is to “stoke the brush fires.”

Certainly, Alinsky would never recommend exchanges of letters or private discussions with the superintendent [of the local school board] as a way of building the [teacher union] organization.  Such meetings or such correspondence might solve the problem, but they would not provide the kind of action that is exciting and. . . makes your people want to. . . participate.

Saul Alinsky’s entire approach is built around maintaining a constant climate of conflict between “us” (the teacher union militants and their Uniserv organizers) and “them” (usually the local school board).  The stated goal of this ever-aggressive stance is bluntly stated in the Uniserv manual: “to buy a piece of the power.”

And that it does, engaging in everything from teacher health insurance scams to vandalism and violence.  In Michigan City, Indiana, an Indiana NEA affiliate official was arrested while trying to vandalize the car of a local school board official.  The vandal, Richard Cornstubble, the regional coordinator for the Indiana State Teachers Association union, was dressed entirely in black and had removed the dome light from his car’s interior.  “Somebody trained him well,” said the school board member who was Cornstubble’s target.

In Fairfax, Virginia, in 1992, a Uniserv staff member helped manipulate the selection of Prudential Life Insurance as the health insurance carrier for the Fairfax Education Association (FEA) teacher union at a cost of $2.1 million more than the next lowest bidder.

In Lake County, Ohio, in 1978, Uniserv operatives organized a strike in which windows were shot out and cars splattered with paint.  Gunshots were fired through the window of a local guidance counselor.  The violence was directed at teachers and administrators who had chosen to work during the walkout.

The picture which emerges from an examination of the Uniserv program is sinister and disturbing.  The NEA union officials have at their disposal a network of hired guns across the country which at the push of a button can ignite anything from radical political action to harassment and even violence – and the results are orchestrated and focused.

Money-Making Schemes

The use of compulsory fees is not the only way NEA teacher union bosses make money.  They also possess a number of special privileges which further enhance their power.

Pocketing Taxpayer Money Through Tax Exemption Status

Because the NEA used to be a reputable, non-profit organization, the NEA teachers union bosses were given a federal charter for exemption from property taxes which frees up some $2 million per year.

In Washington, D.C. alone, the NEA bosses own two buildings worth almost $69 million.  But because of this charter, the District of Columbia loses out on $1.6 million in annual property taxes the NEA would otherwise have to pay.   No other union in America has this legal loophole.

Teacher Union Boss or Insurance Salesman?

In many places, NEA union bosses “sell” to captive teachers insurance from which the union reaps a handsome profit.  By steering business to Prudential Insurance Co., the NEA teacher union bosses receive a kickback of $10 million a year.  This equals a full 30% of the money teachers spent in insurance premiums.

In Fairfax County, Virginia, in 1992, the school board — acting on the recommendation of an NEA-influenced employee committee and a Uniserv operative — awarded a large health insurance policy to Prudential, which experts say cost more and had inferior coverage to the teachers’ former insurance company.

The reason the NEA teacher union bosses were so ready to endorse Prudential may be related to the Prudential Foundation’s donating $300,000 to the NEA teacher union foundation.   Similar schemes are run by NEA teacher union bosses in virtually every state.

In Michigan, bosses of the Michigan Education Association (MEA), an affiliate of the NEA teacher union, created a way of exploiting teachers with a scam known as Messa — Michigan Educational Special Services Association.

What Messa does is administer insurance claims that are underwritten by Blue Cross.  By charging school boards almost $1,000 more a year per head than the state insurance, Messa’s 1989-1992 income reached about $87 million.

If a local school board even considers looking elsewhere for insurance, MEA teacher union bosses will threaten to strike.

“When the MEA comes in to bargain contracts, it effectively says take our insurance or we’ll strike,” said Joseph Overton, co-author of a non-profit study about Messa.  “The result is that taxpayers end up paying for a Rolls-Royce health care plan with money that could be going to classrooms to educate students.”

The reason why the MEA teacher union bosses insist on Messa is simple — money.  The MEA teacher union bosses receive an annual fee from Messa worth about $1.5 million a year.

But that’s not all.  Messa also buys computers and other services from the Michigan Education Data Network Association (MEDNA), a for-profit branch of the MEA.  In 1992, the bill to Messa was over $8 million.

These three organizations – the MEA, Messa, and MEDNA — are so interwoven with each other that they even share the same switchboard.

And there’s more, the NEA and MEA union bosses not only use MESSA to gain more money, but also to tighten their grip on the teachers.  “You take members that don’t believe in collective bargaining, that don’t believe in our political ends, but you talk to them about Messa, they’ll stand in the middle of the highway to defend it,” says Al Short, lobbyist for the MEA.

Ultra-liberal Agenda of the NEA Teacher Union Bosses

Teacher union bosses are not only interested in forced dues and the perks of power.  They also have a radical, ultra-liberal political agenda.  Over the years this agenda has included:

  • Specially granted privileges for homosexuals
  • Government-run health care
  • Condom distribution in schools
  • Government-subsidized abortion on demand
  • Equal Rights Amendment
  • Opposition to voluntary school prayer
  • Rejection of Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork
  • Opposition to Nicaraguan Contra freedom fighters
  • Statehood for Washington, DC

Whatever the merit of these positions, most have nothing to do with education.  Such positions confirm that NEA teacher union bosses are more concerned with forcing their ideological vision on America than they are with educating children.

One NEA union meeting after another focuses on far-out politics, not on education.  For example, in June 1984, about 600 NEA teacher union bosses gathered in Minneapolis for a session allegedly about improving American education.

Actually, they spent most of their time talking about how to defeat Ronald Reagan’s reelection bid, how to help the Democratic Party candidate, Walter Mondale, and how to revive the Equal Rights Amendment.  The NEA teacher union bosses produced a lengthy legislative agenda which, analysts reported, contained just three references to fulfilling the needs of our children.

In 1981, then NEA president Mary Hatwood Futrell said it best when she boasted, “Instruction and professional development (of teachers) have been placed on the back burner, compared to political action.”


Chapter 7

“Whose Children Are They?  Teacher Unions Dumb Down Education”

“Schools will become clinics whose purpose is to individualize psycho-social treatment for the student, and teachers must become psychosocial therapists. Children are to become the object of experimentation.” 

Education for the Seventies, an NEA pamphlet

“If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves.”  

— The National Commission on Excellence in Education

Asked on the Larry King TV show in 1992 about proposals to give parents tuition vouchers so poor and middle-income families would have an alternative to failing public schools, NEA teacher union president Keith Geiger snapped: “quit talking about letting kids escape…”


On January 15, 1993, New York City school teacher Mrs. Loraine Uhlman stood outside her tan-bricked school with her class of gifted and talented students for the last time.  The entire group of young students gave their teacher tearful good-byes.  Due to an edict from the school bureaucracy and the teacher union bosses, this class was robbed of its teacher.

The union contract clearly stated that a teacher with seniority picks his or her class, regardless of qualification to teach it.  That’s exactly what happened to Mrs. Uhlman’s class.  A gym teacher with more seniority demanded it, and the teacher union bosses saw to it that he got it.  Halfway through the school year, a class of young people lost their teacher.


In New York City, the local American Federation of Teachers (AFT) union bosses used forced union dues for legal fees to protect Peter Melzer, an avowed activist for the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA).  The AFT fought both the school board and the parents so that Mr. Melzer, a dues-paying member, could continue to expose high school students to his “lifestyle.”  Parents were outraged that union bosses would approve of a teacher who openly promoted sex between adult men and young boys.   But Mr. Melzer had complete union-boss support, as long as he continued to pay his union dues.

Who Cares about Education?

During the past three decades, scholastic achievements and discipline plunged as teacher union bosses gained effective control of government schools.  Today, teacher union bosses effectively control over 80% of government school teachers.   In addition, by using members’ forced dues, teacher union bosses have effectively seized control of many school boards around the country.

Teacher union bosses use this power not to serve the children’s educational needs, but to serve their own selfish interests.  “When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the schoolchildren,” declared American Federation of Teachers union president, Albert Shanker.

Teacher union bosses only care about enforcing compulsory unionism and achieving their various political agendas.  Never is the primary objective of teacher union bosses to educate children.  A 1981 NEA bulletin bluntly admitted, “kids learning … is secondary to the other goals.”

Rep. John Ashbrook (now a U.S. Senator, R -Missouri) described the situation with the teacher union bosses best when he said, “I think there’s a growing concern that the NEA’s priorities these days break down like this — power first, politics second, education third.”

Teacher Union Bosses and the Decline of the U.S. School System

In 1992, the National Assessment of Educational Progress issued a “Writing Report Card” which reported a shocking survey: 52% of 8th graders and 37% of 12th graders say they were seldom assigned more than three pages of writing.  A majority of children say that they spend less than one hour a week on writing proficiency.


In his recent book about the crisis in government schools, Dumbing Down Our Kids, author Charles Sykes cited this passage which a teacher commended as above average work: “I’m goin to has majik skates.  Im goin to go to disenelan.  Im gin to bin my mom and dad and brusr and sisd.  We r go to se mickey mouse.”


This letter, sent by two ninth graders, clearly shows the decline of the American school system: “Dear School Board — We are writing in consern of an onfit physical educational derictor.  At New Berlin West High School we have landslids of problems, regarding [teacher’s name].  The students and some faclty feel she unfit to teach a phy ed class.  She contiuasly mock me, [a student’s name] and my assastare [another student’s name].”


According to experts, what went wrong with the American school system was the rise to power of teacher union bosses.  In its June 7, 1993 article, “The National Extortion Association,” Forbes magazine puts the blame right where it belongs:  “[The teacher union bosses’] growing power has exactly coincided with the dismal spectacle of rising spending on education producing deteriorating results.”

Since the 1960s, combined SAT scores have dropped some 100 points.   Most teacher union bosses routinely dismiss their record and point to an alleged lack of wages or lack of funds as the explanation for poor student performance.

Research show that this is a bald-face misinterpretation of the facts.  After adjusting for inflation, the average pay for a teacher in 1993 was more than double the pay of a teacher from the 1960s.   As for lack of funds, per pupil spending is now over five times the per pupil spending of the 1960s.

For the last thirty years, teacher union bosses have been gaining control over the American school system.  Not content with compulsory power, buckets of forced-dues cash and political control, teacher union bosses push a radical education agenda which demolishes learning fundamentals, erodes support for America’s free market system, and undermines parents’ rights and authority.

Illiteracy Through “Whole Language”

In the 1983-84 Annual Edition of the NEA’s Today’s Education, the NEA teacher union bosses not only took credit for Whole Language, but claimed, “the overemphasis on phonics with beginners” is now “ready for the scrap heap.”


In 1987, California union bosses virtually eliminated phonics from schools.  Children were expected to skim through books and somehow absorb reading skills without being taught.  Six years later, a national reading study survey showed that California students were tied for last in the entire nation — and recent immigrants to California were not counted.


The National Education Association union bosses publish a number of books promoting “Whole Language,” including Whole Language: Beliefs and Practices, K-8; Reading and Writing in the Primary Grades (Whole-Language); Reading and Writing in the Middle Grade: A Whole-Language View; and Reading and Writing in High Schools (Whole-Language).  In “Whole Language”, a child is shown a word and then a picture or drawing of what that word is.  For example, if the word is “dog”, the child is shown a picture of a dog.  The child then learns to memorize the word with its main idea.

“Whole Language” is anti-phonics.  A child never learns to sound out a word, but only to memorize it.  All it amounts to is word-guessing.  At its best, teacher union-approved, dumbed-down “Whole Language” textbooks use a small number of words endlessly.  Children do end up memorizing these but are helpless when they see an unfamiliar written word, even if it is a part of their spoken vocabulary.  NEA teacher union bosses have become one of the leading forces behind “Whole Language” through publishing “Whole Language” textbooks.

Why do teacher union bosses, whose primary goals never include the education of students, publish these text books?  Perhaps one reason is to make money.  Publishing these textbooks is big business.  The NEA clearly makes substantial money through sales and special book deals, as done by a normal out-for-profit publishing company.

“Make everyone in your school a Whole Language teacher,” declared an NEA teacher union bosses’ promotional flyer, “And don’t miss out on our special SAVE $50 discount offer.”

 “Outcome Based Education” (OBE): Feeling Good About Knowing Nothing

In Report Card on American Education 1994, Lynne V. Cheney, the former head of the National Endowment for the Humanities,  noted: “Over the past few years, in state after state, standards have become defined in attitudinal terms.  The issue becomes not whether students can read and write but whether they are adept as ‘environmental stewards,’ appreciative of ‘local and global civic participation’ and skilled at ‘interpersonal relationships.’  In state after state, a good idea — that education should be judged by results — has been turned into a monument to politically correct, new‑age thinking.”


When asked about OBE in America’s school system, the late Albert Shanker, head of the AFT teachers union, admitted:  “It’s a lot easier to schmooze with kids about ‘life roles’ than to make sure they can do geometry theorems or read Macbeth.”


In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where the average grade of a student is around a D, the district’s school board passed ten teacher union-boss backed “goals and performance indicators” for students:

  • Goal One: “Students will project anti-racist, anti-biased attitudes.”
  • Goal Two: “Students will demonstrate positive attitudes towards life, living, and learning.”

Math and writing skills had to wait patiently for their mention as the seventh goal.


In Westport, Connecticut, Linda Frazer ran as an anti-OBE candidate for the Board of Education.  Many parents wrote letters to the local paper supporting her.  A substantial number were unsigned, reflecting the fear of teacher union-boss retaliation.

Local teacher union bosses mobilized their forces and soundly defeated Frazer.  This experience is noteworthy since Westport is among America’s most prosperous communities, where people are not easily intimidated.  Actor Paul Newman and talk show host Phil Donahue are just two of the influential citizens of that town.

Westport Superintendent of Schools Paul Kelleher admitted that parents were reluctant to speak out against OBE for fear teacher union bosses would retaliate against their children in class.


In a pro-OBE flyer, NEA teacher union bosses push the idea that “the central theme of [OBE] is that every human being must inevitably develop or construct meaning.”


Almost all downward educational trends seem to converge on OBE.  Curiously enough, the term, “Outcome Based Education,” seems to have originated during the Reagan administration, when education reformers like Chester E. Finn, Jr. tried to focus on the intended results of education, such as competence, rather than on the budgets for educational programs.  By the time teacher union bosses got involved, it came to mean further dumbing-down of educational standards.  OBE now involves a mish-mash of dogmas, many of which have been kicking around since the 1920s.

First, desired outcomes are expressed ambiguously, making it difficult for anyone to tell whether they are being fulfilled.  Examples include achieving a “positive self-concept” (in Kentucky), “establishing priorities to balance multiple life roles” (Pennsylvania), and the “integration of physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness” (Minnesota).

Second, to confuse things further, schools do not set priorities.  They proclaim a great many outcomes as goals.  Pennsylvania, for instance, has specified 51 outcomes, few of which have anything to do with academics.

Third, any desired academic outcomes are scaled back to the least challenging level possible, within reach of the slowest learners.  There are yearly goals which many students could achieve in as little as a month.

Fourth, there are no meaningful deadlines for completing work, if any is assigned.  Half, two-thirds, or even more children can turn in projects late without consequence.

Fifth, children are given tests again and again until all the students “pass.”  There’s no urgency to learn material by a certain date.

Sixth, OBE uses a cock-eyed grading system which papers over inadequacies.  There is no “F.”  “A,” “B” and the conventional “C” are out, too.  Instead, children might get a “C” for consistency, “S” for sometimes and “N” for not yet.

Seventh, every student is to study the same material at the same time, and no one moves forward unless everyone moves.  The pace is set by the slowest student.

OBE is so vague and dumbed-down, there’s little, if any, evidence of actual benefits.  University of Minnesota education professor Jean King observes that people believe in OBE “almost like a religion — that you believe in this and if you believe in it hard enough, it will be true.”

Parents object to OBE because it belittles fundamental skills and smacks of social engineering.  The great majority of outcomes relate to values, feelings, and other issues traditionally the responsibility of parents.

Now that it is becoming increasingly obvious that OBE does not work, why do teacher union bosses still continue to endorse it?  To answer that question, one must ask another.  Which takes less competency — teaching a student how to read or making a student feel good?

In the same way that the response to declining SAT scores is to redefine the grading, OBE uses feel-good, undefined “results” which can be neither tested nor measured to cover up union bosses’ failure of teach children.

Where children are never graded, schools, teachers and teacher union bosses never fail.

For Teacher Union Bosses, A Dues-Paying Teacher is a Competent Teacher

This was a note sent home with a Mobile, Alabama, child from his teacher in 1977: “Scott is droping in his studies he acts as if he don’t care.  Scott wont pass in his assignment at all, he had a poem to learn and he fell to do it.”   Scott’s parents brought this note up to the school board.  The teacher was fired.

Imagine the parents’ surprise when the teacher union bosses fought for the teacher’s job.  In fact, they won.  The teacher kept her position and returned to the classroom.  How are the students of America supposed to learn to write when teacher union bosses force government schools to retain teachers who cannot write?


As incredible as it may seem, it’s possible for a child to go all the way through the government school system, graduate, and even become a government school teacher without ever learning how to read.  One who stepped forward to admit it this was John Corcoran.  In his 1994 book, The Teacher Who Couldn’t Read, he tells how “no one took it upon himself or herself to teach me.”  According to his account, teachers labeled him early-on as immature, lazy, and stupid without doing anything to help.  With deception and help from his friends, he obtained a college degree in education.  Even though he worked as a high school teacher, Mr. Corcoran remained illiterate until the age of 48.   Because teacher union bosses would not allow school boards to give teachers competency tests, Mr. Corcoran was able to teach children on issues he knew nothing about for over 20 years.


One of the top goals for teacher union bosses is control over hiring and promotion.  In many cases, teacher union bosses control which teachers teach and which ones do not through the use of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).  NCATE accredits about 500 of the 1200 teacher colleges in America. Although state government accredits individual teachers, the government usually tries to mirror the standards handed down by the NCATE.

NCATE officially began in 1954, when the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education joined the NEA teacher union.  Ever since that time, the NCATE has been the unofficial partner of the NEA.  Keith Geiger, a former president of the NEA, is even the NCATE board chairman.

After creating a detailed critique of teacher accrediting organizations, Donna H. Kerr of Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Studies had this to say about the NEA’s partner in education:  “NCATE and its standards can hardly help but function as a vehicle for special interest groups.”  In her words, the agency itself had “evolved as a compromise of special interests.”

This organization gives the NEA the power to set the standards that teachers are to be judged on, whether it be where a teacher went to school or what union a teacher belongs to.  It allows the NEA to decide who teaches and who doesn’t.

Union Bosses Oppose Competency Tests

At the 1994 NEA convention, teacher union bosses passed resolution after resolution about their stand on the hiring and promotion of teachers.  Resolution F-9 stated that teachers should be hired and promoted only on the basis of seniority.  Resolution F-34 opposed drug and alcohol testing of teachers.  But the most important resolution was that of opposing competency tests “as a condition of employment, license retention, evaluation, placement, ranking, or promotion.”

Through this resolution, NEA teacher union bosses have shown once again that they care little about what their students are being taught.  The usual excuse of teacher union bosses is that a “paper and pencil” test cannot properly measure the true qualities of a teacher.  By this logic, a flying test could not measure the quality of an airline pilot.  Of course the main goal of teacher union bosses is to gain more money through union dues.  For them, paying union dues is the only competency test required.

Union Bosses’ Political Views in the Classroom

When assessing the situation of American schools brought about by teacher union bosses, John Boyles, editor of Educator’s Newsletter, wrote that “The day is fast approaching when the schools will be acknowledged for what they are becoming: society’s agreed-upon vehicle for instituting social change.”


In 1981, the NEA teacher union bosses, in joint venture with the Council for Interracial Books, published a report on romantic novels.  In one article of the report, a critic had this to say about romantic novels:

No romantic novel ever gave the slightest hint that women and girls could, and did, stay together.  I am concerned that the adolescent years of those who may be gay or lesbian and are now reading these happiness package novels will be far more difficult than necessary.


In 1994, the NEA teacher union bosses passed resolution B-8 advocating spending time on “the roles and contributions of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people throughout history with their sexual orientation.”


In 1993, Florida’s American Federation of Teachers union bosses complained that a local school board’s new policy had violated the state’s teacher union-boss-backed multiculturalism law.  This multiculturalism law was designed to “eliminate personal and national ethnocentrism so that [students] understand that a specific culture is not intrinsically superior or inferior to another.”

AFT union bosses objected to the school board’s policy urging teachers to instill “an appreciation of our American heritage and culture such as our republican form of government, capitalism, a free-enterprise system, patriotism, strong family values, freedom of religion, and other basic values….”


In one school district after another, teacher union bosses have pushed their narrow political agendas.  Instead of teaching fundamentals, teacher union bosses demand courses that are far more social in nature.  Such agendas include the following 1994 NEA resolutions:

  • Resolution B-43 favored teaching children about the history of unions, without saying a word about entrepreneurs who create jobs.
  • Resolution B-41 stated that teacher must teach children about recycling.
  • Resolution B-46 urged children be instructed to support international understanding and oppose the use of nuclear weapons.
  • Resolution B-38 stated that teachers should promote Earth Day activities.
  • Resolution B-27 advocated multiculturalism — the doctrine which refuses to recognize any differences among cultures; arguing that a tribe of cannibals, for example, is no different from the Pilgrims.
  • Resolution B-22 urged that pregnant teenagers be given positive self‑esteem.
  • Resolution C-15 warned children that they might be exploited by telemarketing.
  • Resolution H-5 endorsed government-run health care which invariably means higher taxes, rationing and further loss of control by patients.

Of course, none of these resolutions has anything to do with teaching America’s children how to read and write.

Teacher Union Bosses Encourage Members to Mislead Parents

In one NEA teacher union-boss manual, teachers were given  questions that concerned parents might ask:

  • “Do you ask your students to clarify or examine their values?”
  • “Do you teach about values that may be different from those of your students’ parents?”
  • “Do you ever teach that ‘anything goes’ or that if it feels OK, do it?”
  • “Is any student reading material ‘sexually suggestive’?”
  • “Do you put restrictions on a parent’s right to be involved in the classroom?”

With this list, teacher union bosses give instructions on how to outmaneuver parents when they object to non-academic courses in the classroom.

NEA teacher union bosses explain how to intimidate parents by crying “censorship,” “academic freedom,” and “intellectual freedom” rather than attempting to reassure worried parents or to acknowledge parents’ fundamental right to direct their children’s upbringing.

What Are Teacher Union Bosses Hiding?

Twenty Two — That’s the percent of teacher union members that send their children to private schools. Even the NEA’s best-known “partner” in education, President Bill Clinton, sends his daughter to private school.  So does Vice President Al Gore.

Do teachers know something that their union-boss masters do not want to share with the average American?

What facts are these teacher union bosses trying to hide?  The fact that union bosses enforce teaching methods that do not work?  The fact that teacher union bosses keep incompetent teachers in the classroom?  The fact that teacher union bosses impose their personal political agendas on innocent children?  The fact that teacher union bosses control ever larger amounts of taxpayer money despite dismal performances?  Or is it just the fact that, to teacher union bosses, education is secondary?

Chapter 8

“National Right to Work:  Winning the Fight for Freedom”

“All that is necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing.” 

— Edmund Burke

 “To give voice, truth and political direction to the American people in the battle against compulsory unionism, this is the purpose of the National Right to Work organizations.”

— Reed Larson

Higher taxes, bloated bureaucracies, strikes, poorer public services, corruption, and sometimes even violence … these are the costs to citizens from government sector compulsory unionism.

Lost freedom, less money, sometimes a lost job, harassment, and violence … these are the costs to workers.

But perhaps the greatest danger is the corruption of America’s political process by the hundreds of millions of dollars in forced dues Big Labor pumps into elections every year.  Money used to secure the election of union puppet politicians who will vote against freedom, the interests of the public and even against the Constitution in order to ensnare more workers in the net of compulsory unionism.

In the courts, Congress, and state legislatures, state legislatures, the press, and through educational work, National Right to Work organizations — the National Right to Work Committee, National Institute for Labor Relations Research and National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation — are on the front lines.

The National Right to Work Committee squares off against Big Labor in Washington, D.C. and dozens of state capitals.  Time and time again, Big Labor’s plans for more power and more forced dues are defeated by the Committee’s mobilization of outraged members and citizens.

However, with union bosses having literally tens of millions of dollars available to spend on politics in virtually every state, many legislators are wholly-owned subsidiaries of Big Labor.  Many other legislators live in terror of union-boss political retaliation.  So while the great Leviathan of Big Labor’s power mostly tugs and strains at its weakening leash, it continues to nourish itself on forced dues.

The National Institute for Labor Relations Research is devoted to researching and educating the public concerning government regulation of employment matters, including documentation of the costs of compulsory unionism.  With one of the best resource libraries in the country on Big Labor, the Institute keeps a watchful eye on its impact on workers, taxpayers and politics.  In addition, the Institute sponsors top labor scholars and experts in the study of forced unionism and Big Labor’s political agenda.

Meanwhile, in court case after court case, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is rolling back Big Labor’s ill-gotten gains.  The Foundation is the only major organization committed to helping individual workers regain and protect their rights, on a nationwide basis.  Providing free legal aid, Foundation attorneys have restored workers to jobs, won back pay, forced unions to cough up money illegally seized from workers, and obtained big damage awards for employee-victims of union violence.  Foundation attorneys currently represent thousands of workers in more than 400 cases across the country.

Fighting in state courts, U.S. Courts of Appeals, the U.S. Supreme Court, legislatures, governors’ offices, Congress and the White House, and the court of public opinion, the National Right to Work organizations battle Big Labor with every tool legally available.

But no success would have occurred — nor would any be possible — without the support and generous financial backing of hundreds of thousands of patriotic National Right to Work supporters.  While many Americans curse the TV news and wish things were better, National Right to Work members are known for taking action.

Over the years, National Right to Work supporters have written tens of millions of letters, postcards and petitions.  They have attended and testified at hearings in Congress and state legislatures.  They have called on governors and Senators, clipped local newspapers (a surprisingly effective way to get information that bigger papers miss), sent messages of support to victimized workers and given generously to the National Right to Work organizations.

In fact, of all the donations to National Right to Work organizations, fully 75% come in amounts of $100 or less.  And, of course, every dollar is voluntary … unlike Big Labor.  National Right to Work supporters come from all walks of life — farmers, teachers, homemakers, business entrepreneurs, retirees, repairmen, executives, engineers.  And yes, many supporters are union members.

All are united in believing that no American should be forced to join or pay money to a union to get or keep a job.  All are united in believing this fundamental freedom is worth fighting for and worth giving of their hard-earned money.

What follows is a brief review of the history and future plans of the major National Right to Work organizations — the National Right to Work Committee, the National Institute for Labor Relations Research and, especially, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

As this book makes clear, there is much work to be done in fighting government sector compulsory unionism.  The key to victory will be more patriotic Americans stepping forward in the fight.

The National Right to Work Committee

Founded in 1955, the National Right to Work Committee was formed to work for passage of state and a federal Right to Work laws.  The Committee is a non-profit 501(c)(4) public welfare lobbying organization.

I came to the National Right to Work Committee in 1959 after successfully securing passage of a Right to Work law in my native Kansas.  By 1965, 19 states had passed Right to Work laws or secured this protection in their state constitution.  Big Labor’s czars felt the pinch.  Right to Work laws kept billions of dollars out of Big Labor’s political coffers and in the pockets of workers.

So in 1965 — with President Lyndon B. Johnson deeply in Big Labor’s pocket and having scored big gains in Congress in the 1964 elections — union bosses pushed all out for repeal of Section 14(b) of the Taft-Hartley Act (the section of federal law which authorizes state Right to Work laws).

Overnight, all state Right to Work laws would have been wiped out and every American worker vulnerable to compulsory unionism.  But a storm of protest — informed of Big Labor’s plans by the Committee — stopped Right to Work repeal cold in the Senate.  And in the 1966 Congressional races, Big Labor suffered a bloodbath.  47 House members who voted to repeal Right to Work were ousted.   Al Barkin, the AFL-CIO’s national COPE director, lamented Big Labor’s “terrible beating.”

In 1976, the Committee stood up to defeat federal legislation known as the Common Situs Picketing bill.  Common Situs would have given Big Labor broad new powers to forcibly unionize construction workers — America’s largest industry.  With a promise to sign Common Situs from newly-installed Republican President Gerald Ford, Big Labor looked like a sure winner after the downfall of Richard Nixon.

But a flood of postcards, telegrams, letters and phone calls stalled Common Situs in Congress.  By the time union lackey politicians rammed Common Situs through, President Ford was under intense pressure in the Republican primaries not to give in to Big Labor.  In addition, a surging Ronald Reagan picked up the Right to Work banner in his quest to win the nomination instead of Ford.  Gerald Ford finally vetoed Common Situs, citing the Committee’s nationwide efforts as the reason.

Three years later, Big Labor was back.  Now the union bosses had Jimmy Carter as President; a sure signer of any union-boss legislation.  Big Labor’s new power grab — crafted by then AFL-CIO head honcho George Meany — came to be known as the so-called “Labor Law Reform” bill.  By re-writing the already stacked rules for union organizing elections further in Big Labor’s favor, this bill would have opened the door to massive new forced unionization through worker coercion and fraud.  It represented a massive expansion of union-boss power.

Over a period of just a few months, the National Right to Work Committee contacted and mobilized over twelve million Americans.  George Meany’s “Labor Law Reform” bill died in the U.S. Senate.

Though little noticed in Ronald Reagan’s 1980 thrashing of Jimmy Carter, 8 Senators who backed Big Labor and the Pushbutton Unionism bill went down to defeat, including George McGovern, the 1972 Democrat nominee for President.  Adding six more casualties of George Meany’s power grab from the 1978 election cycle, the total jumps to 15 Senators whose careers were smashed on the rocks of Big Labor politics.

With Ronald Reagan as President, the 1980s were relatively quiet at the federal level.  However, battles erupted in dozens of states, and the Committee won the passage of a state Right to Work law in Idaho.

The 1990s have been far more active.  Following the election of Bill Clinton to the Presidency and with clear majorities in the House and Senate in 1992, Big Labor quickly went to work.

First, union bosses rammed through a bill gutting the venerable Hatch Act which for nearly sixty years protected federal workers from coercion by special interests and protected citizens from political coercion by federal workers.  Hatch Act Repeal had been bottled up by the Committee for almost a decade.

Buoyed by that success, Big Labor began an all-out push to pass its Pushbutton Strike Bill (also known as the Anti-Striker Replacement Act).  This bill was the most radical rewrite of U.S. labor laws since Big Labor pushed George Meany’s Pushbutton Unionism in 1979.  By denying employers the chance to hire permanent replacements during a strike, this bill in effect would make employers choose between shutting down and giving in whenever union bosses called a strike.

Once again, millions of petitions, letters, cards, and calls poured into Congress in support of a Senate filibuster led by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Senator Jesse Helms (R-North Carolina).

Despite intense pressure and threats from the union bosses and Bill Clinton, the filibuster held.  The Pushbutton Strike Bill was defeated.  Months later, a public fed up with big government and Big Labor power grabs threw dozens of union-owned politicians out in the 1994 elections.

Now the Committee struck again.  On July 10, 1996 the U.S. Senate voted to end cloture on a National Right to Work bill.  Though the bill lost, finally all U.S. Senators were on record — for or against the Right to Work.

In the 1996 Congressional races, as one would expect, eight of the 10 open-seat Senate candidates pledging 100% support for Right to Work defeated pro-forced-unionism candidates.

All in all, Right to Work forces picked up a net of four seats in the Senate and laid the groundwork for much bigger gains over the next few years, which would pave the way for enactment of a National Right to Work law.

National Institute for Labor Relations Research: Exposing the Costs of Compulsory Unionism

The National Institute for Labor Relations Research is a 501(c)(3) educational organization founded for the purpose of academic study, research, and educating the public concerning government regulation of employment matters, including on the costs of compulsory unionism.

Institute publications include, “A Higher Standard of Living in Right to Work States,” by James Bennett; “Violence:  Organized Labor’s Unique Privilege,” by David Kendrick; and “Jobs Up in Right to Work States,” republished periodically.  Also, the Institute has sponsored symposia and research by some of America’s leading experts in the field of labor law and compulsory unionism.

Finally, the Institute maintains a library of scholarly books and articles, monographs and newspaper articles covering all aspects of the battle against compulsory unionism.  Thousands of cases of union violence and corruption are documented.  Detailed analyses are kept of the costs of compulsory unionism in terms of inflation, higher taxes, lost jobs and failed businesses.

The Institute may be the nation’s best source for facts and examples of Big Labor’s use of forced dues for politics.

National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation: Freeing Workers from Big Labor’s Grip

By the late 1960s it became clear that the legal front needed to be reinforced in the battle against compulsory unionism.  Right to Work leaders agreed it was time to devote energy to systematically ripping apart Big Labor’s compulsory unionism schemes in state and federal courts.

The organization created in 1968 to carry out that mandate was the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.  Established as a 501(c)(3) legal defense organization, all contributions to the Foundation are tax-deductible.

The Foundation’s founders agreed with Thomas Jefferson that “to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical.”  In that spirit, the Foundation has litigated case-by-case to establish that compulsory unionism often causes violation of First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly, Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process, and Ninth and Tenth Amendment rights reserved to the states and to the people.

Prior to 1968, victims of compulsory unionism abuses were in a lonely, exposed position if they tried to fight back.  They had been unjustly treated by their unions or employers, often by both.  Government agencies tended to turn their backs on the problem.  And even if workers could afford them, most labor law specialists worked either for unions or for management — not for employees.

But as much as they would like to, Foundation attorneys cannot take every worker’s request for help.  With limited resources, Foundation attorneys evaluate each request in each of the following categories:

  • The severity of the injustices suffered by the worker;
  • The factual strength of the employee’s situation as a basis for legal action;
  • The possibility of establishing new legal precedents that would benefit other workers;
  • The probable cost in view of the available resources of the Foundation.

For over thirty years, Foundation attorneys have won the following U.S. Supreme Court cases and many other precedent-setting cases:

  • Abood v. Detroit Board of Education (1977) — The Court flatly rejected Big Labor’s argument that government sector employees may be forced to support political activities.  Simply put, no forced dues could be used for politics.
  • Ellis v. Brotherhood of Railway, Airline and Steamship Clerks, et al. (1984) — 9-0 victory holding that the use of forced dues for any purpose other than collective bargaining is illegal.
  • Chicago Teachers Union et al. v. Hudson (1986) — 9-0 victory reinforced Ellis’sban on forced dues for non-bargaining purposes and applied civil rights statutes in finding unions violated due process protection for government sector employees who objected to compulsory unionism.
  • Communication Workers of America v. Beck (1988) — Landmark case authorizing workers covered by the National Labor Relations Act to withhold payment of forced dues beyond those directly attributable to bargaining.
  • Lehnert v. Ferris Faculty Association (1991) —- Fleshes out earlier, vague language by establishing a rigorous 3-part test based on the First Amendment to judge chargeability of activities paid for by forced union dues.

Today, hundreds of court cases representing thousands of workers are underway to hold every branch of Big Labor accountable to the law.  Not surprisingly, intimidation, phony accounting tricks, and outright defiance by union bosses continue to keep workers chained in forced-dues contracts.

But thanks to the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the principle that unions may not take forced dues  and use them in politics is clearly established.  And as the Foundation continues to win, Big Labor is continuing to pay up.

In 1995, a Foundation supported a class-action lawsuit in  Pennsylvania forced American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union bosses to return over $8 million in forced dues illegally seized from workers.

With Foundation-won precedents, the class-action lawsuit — which unites large groups of workers into a single suit — is emerging as a devastating tool against compulsory unionism.  Class-action lawsuits are, however, very expensive to litigate.

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation plans to continue and expand its battle to restore workers’ rights by:

  • Aggressively pursuing cases with precedent-setting U.S. Supreme Court potential to establish the Right to Work as a basic American right which may not be infringed by government or union bosses;
  • Working systematically to force Big Labor to abide by the law, not to rip off workers, and to comply with prohibitions on using forced dues for politics;
  • Remaining the leading defender of workers and employees victimized by union bosses by expanding its program to help regain rights, income, and jobs by providing free legal aid to the worker.

National Right to Work’s Future: Winning the Battle for Freedom

Surveys consistently show over 75% of the American people support the Right to Work without being forced to join or pay money to a union to get or keep a job.  Even more Americans oppose compulsory unionization of government employees.  Against this large majority, Big Labor stands loaded up with billions of dollars in forced union dues.

The fact is that without focused pressure and mobilization of patriotic Americans, Big Labor could prevail.  In our political system, a determined powerful minority (like Big Labor) will usually defeat an unorganized majority.

This is especially true if Big Labor is not held accountable in the courts for its illegal use of forced dues for politics.  This is where the National Right to Work Foundation comes in.

How can a patriotic American fight back?  First and foremost, decide that worker freedom — the Right to Work — is something worth spending some time and money for.

Second, step forward to become an active supporter of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

Big Labor’s bosses will not give up their avaricious dream of forcing every government worker to pay them dues or be fired.  But by working together, freedom-loving Americans can protect the Right to Work not only of government employees, but of all Americans.


Footnotes for Stranglehold by Reed Larson


  1. “Education Thugs,”  Heterodoxy (November/December 1994)
  2. Mark Belling,  “Union Continues to Make a Bad Name for Itself,” Freeman (10 August 1994).
  3. Insight,  “Philadelphia Garbage Strike” (1 November 1992).
  4. Daniel R. Levine,  “How Unions Looted the City of Brotherly Love,” Reader’s Digest (May 1993)
  5. Milton Chappell, “Seeking a New Foundation,” Government Union Review (summer  1995)
  6. “AFL-CIO Membership,” Union Labor Report, Bureau of National Affairs (26 October 1995)
  7. Charlene Haar, with Myron Lieberman and Leo Troy, The NEA and AFT: Teacher Unions in Power and Politics  (Cambridge, Mass.: ProActive Publications, 1994)
  8.  Survey conducted by Political/Media Research, Inc. (Mason Dixon), Columbia, Md.  Results based on survey of 821 likely voters conducted August 9-13, 1995.  The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.5%.

Chapter 1

  1. Union Membership and Earnings Data Book (Washington, DC: The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc., 1997)
  2. Sidney and Beatrice Webb, The History of Trade Unionism (New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1920)
  3. Morgan O. Reynolds,  “The History and Economics of Labor Unions,” Series on Public Issues 16 (College Station, Tex.: Center for Education and Research in Free Enterprise)
  4. Ibid.
  5. Donald R. Richberg, Labor Union Monopoly: A Clear and Present Danger (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1957)
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Reynolds, “History and Economics”
  9. Ibid.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Richberg, Labor Union Monopoly
  13. Ibid.
  14. Ibid.
  15. Ibid.
  16. Ibid.
  17. Ibid.
  18. Carter v. Carter Coal Co., 298 U. S. 238, at 311 (1936).
  19. Charles W. Baird, “The Permissible Use of Forced Union Dues: From Hanson to Beck,” Policy Analysis (24 July 1992)
  20. Ibid..
  21. Ibid.
  22. Ibid.
  23. Ibid.
  24. Ibid.
  25. Reynolds, “History and Economics”
  26. Baird, “Permissible Use”
  27. Ibid.
  28. Reynolds, “History and Economics,” 5. Cf. Leo Troy and Neil Sheflin, Union Sourcebook: Membership, Structure, Finance, Directory  (West Orange: Industrial Relations Data and Information Services, 1985)
  29. Richberg, Labor Union Monopoly
  30. Ibid.
  31. By 1965, 20 states had actually passed such laws, but union officials successfully jockeyed for the repeal of Indiana’s Right to Work law in 1965, leaving 19 states with Right to Work laws in that year.  Louisiana and Idaho passed Right to Work laws in 1976 and 1984, respectively, for the current total of 21.
  32. Letter from Franklin Delano Roosevelt to L.C. Steward, quoted. in Ralph De Toledano, Let Our Cities Burn (New Rochelle, N.Y.:  Arlington House Publishers, 1975)
  33. Executive Order No. 10988, January 19, 1962, 27 F.R. 551 at 4269, § 1 (a).
  34. Leo Troy, The New Unionism in the New Society: Public Sector Unions in the Redistributive State (Fairfax: George Mason University Press, 1994)
  35. Leo Troy and Neil Sheflin, “The Flow and Ebb of U.S. Public Sector Unionism,” Government Union Review (spring 1984)
  36. Ibid..
  37. Troy and Sheflin, Union Sourcebook.
  38. Troy and Sheflin, “ The Flow”
  39. Ibid.
  40. NEA Handbook  (Washington: National Education Association, 1997)
  41. C.D. Gifford, Directory of U.S. Labor Organizations (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of National Affairs, 1997)
  42. Union Membership
  43. Ibid.

Chapter 2

  1. Charles W. Baird, “The Permissible Use of Forced Union Dues from Hanson to Beck,” Policy Analysis (24 July 1992)
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. International Association of Machinists et al. v. Street et al., 367 U.S. 740 at 749.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Baird, “Permissible Use”
  7. N.L.R.B. v. General Motors Corporation, 373 U.S. 734 at 742.
  8. Baird, “Permissible Use”
  9. Source: National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation case file archives.
  10. Howard Ellis et al. v. Brotherhood of Railway, Airline and Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express and Station Employees, et al., 466 U.S. 435 at 444.
  11. Chicago Teachers Union, Local No. 1, AFT, AFL-CIO, et al. v. Annie Lee Hudson et al., 475 U.S. 292 at 294-310; cf. Baird, “Permissible Use”
  12. Baird, “Permissible Use”
  13.  James P. Lehnert et al v. Ferris Faculty Association, 500 U.S. 507 at 519.

Chapter 3

  1. Ralph De Toledano, Let Our Cities Burn (New York: Arlington House Publishers, Inc., 1975)
  2. Ibid.
  3. How Compulsory Unionism Corrupts Politics (Springfield, Va.: National Right to Work Committee)
  4. Harry Bernstein, “Unions Can Play Key Role in Election,” Los Angeles Times (12 November  1992)
  5. How Compulsory Unionism
  6. Dr. Leo Troy, Professor of Economics, Rutgers University, Testimony before House Oversight Committee, 21 March 1996.
  7. F.C. “Duke” Zeller, “Inside Big Labor’s Political Machine,” Wall Street Journal (16 January 1997).
  8. Douglas Caddy, “Organized Labor: Nation’s Most Powerful Political Machine,” Human Events (11 January 1975)
  9. Reed Larson, Testimony before House Oversight Committee, 21 March 1996.
  10. Jim Hill, “Shapiro trial testimony focuses on vote totals,” Portland Oregonian (1 October 1980).
  11. Mark Rosenberg, “Shapiro given 2 years in prison for mail fraud,” Oregon Statesman-Journal (4 November 1980)
  12. “State union official indicted: Mail fraud charged,” Portland Oregonian (19 June 1980)
  13. Lisa Leiter, “Unions Hope to Cashier the GOP,” Washington Times (6 May 1996)
  14. Grover G. Norquist, “Labor’s Last Stand: Facing falling numbers and growing apathy, Big Labor plays big spender to stay in power,” American Spectator (August 1996)
  15. “Local Union PACs: How to get political action where it counts,” United Steelworkers’ Steelabor (July 1979)
  16. Richard Freeman and James L. Medoff, What Do Unions Do? (New York: Basic Books, 1984)
  17. “Political Action Committees–Financial Activity Summary by Committee Type: 1985 to 1990” Statistical Abstract of the United States: 1992 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Bureau of the Census).
  18. De Toledano, Let Our Cities Burn
  19. Federal Elections Commission reports of campaign contributions by labor unions, 1986-1994, cumulative totals.
  20. “Hell’s Angels in Blue,” Manchester Union Leader (29 March 1994).
  21. Sunny Mays Schust, “11 Days In August: The Strike: How Hogan Won it; How the Union Blew It; How the Workers Lost,” Prince George’s Journal (24 September 1980)
  22. Ibid.
  23. Neil Henry,  “Riot Rips Jail as Guards Join P.G. Workers Strike,” Washington Post (13 August 1980): A-1.
  24. Christopher P. Winner, “Strike Was Carefully Calculated Move, Jail Guards Say,” Washington Star (13 August 1980)
  25. Henry, “Riot Rips Jail.”
  26.  “County Strike Challenges Hogan,” news clipping from the National Institute for Labor Relations Research archives (August 1980).
  27. “The Role of Politics in Local Labor Relations,” UCLA Law Review, quoted. in De Toledano, Let Our Cities Burn, 88.
  28. How Compulsory Unionism

Chapter 4

  1. Albert Shanker, “Exploring Alternatives to the Strike,” Monthly Labor Review (September 1973): 33.
  2. Daniel Cook, “Scrappy Machinists’ Leader Pushes Labor to the Left,” Industry Week (2 April 1979).
  3. “Angry Air Controllers Prepare Tough Tactics,” Wall Street Journal (2 July 1980).
  4. David Kendrick, Violence: Organized Labor’s Unique Privilege (Washington, D.C.: The National Institute for Labor Relations Research, 1996).
  5. Congressional Record (12 December 1945).
  6. U.S. v. Enmons, 93 S. Ct. 1007 (1973)
  7. Ibid.
  8. Leo Troy, The New Unionism in the New Society: Public Sector Unions in the Redistributive State (Fairfax: George Mason University Press, 1994)
  9. “NEA Signals New Role of Teachers,” Washington Star (2 July 1972). In Union Power in Union Officials’ Own Words (Springfield, Va.: National Institute for Labor Relations Research)
  10.  Rachel Flick, “How Unions Stole the Big Apple,” Reader’s Digest (January 1992).
  11. Jonathan F. Pingle, “Custodians’ Union Wins Dispute on Service Fee,” Wilton Bulletin (2 March 1994).
  12. Leo Troy and Neil Sheflin, “The Flow and Ebb of U.S. Public Sector Unionism,” Government Union Review (spring 1984)
  13. Sarah Tippit, “Employees Union Files Labor Grievance Against Casselberry,” Orlando Sentinel (24 August 1990)
  14. “Philadelphia Horror Story,” Wall Street Journal (30 June 1992).
  15. Ibid.
  16. “Teacher Tenure: Rights vs. Discipline,” New York Times METRO (28 June 1994).
  17.  “Hall of Shame: Your Tax Dollars at Play,” Insight Magazine 8, no. 16 (20 April 1992)
  18. “Tires slashed on substitutes’ cars,” Riverside Press-Enterprise (10 December 1987).
  19. E. Cahill Maloney, “Strikers sabotage working cops,” Pomona Progress Bulletin (22 August 1975).
  20. “Alioto House Bombed,” Oakland Tribune (20 August 1975).
  21. Steve Konicki, “Firemen watch homes burn,” Dayton Daily News (9 August 1977).
  22. “Angry Kansas City Mayor Wants Apology,” Pomona Progress Bulletin (5 October 1975).
  23. Judith Cummings, “5 Are Arrested After Besieging of Bus in Strike,” New York Times (4 April 1979).
  24. Amy Mednick, “Strike Turns Ugly at Area Schools,” San Pedro News Pilot (18 May  1989).
  25. “Striking Teacher Arrested in Rock-throwing Incident,” San Pedro News Pilot (25 May 1989).
  26. “Unnatural Allies,” Montgomery Advertiser (17 July 1979).
  27. Phillip J. O’Connor, “Teamster Official Charged in Beating,” Chicago Sun-Times (22 September 1983).
  28. “SEPTA Strike Turns Violent,” Atlantic City News (19 March 1986).
  29. Dave Racher, “He Gets Probation in Picket Line Row,” Philadelphia Daily News (21 October 1993).
  30. Stacey McKenzie, “Vandalism Mars Firm’s First Day,” Des Moines Register (18 March 1993).
  31. Mary B. Thomas, “Two Union Members Held In Shoot-Out With Police,” Atlanta Journal (21 May 1976).
  32. Ron Ishoy, “Dearborn Strikers Ambush a Private Garbage Hauler,” Detroit Free Press (24 August 1978).
  33. “Guard Sergeant to Be Sentenced,” Portland Press Herald (29 August 1994).
  34. “Ballot Box,” Education Week (7 October 1992).
  35. “Private Jails Can’t Escape Labor,” Cincinnati Enquirer (7 July 1993).
  36. Dave Farrell, “Political Hardball Is MEA’s Game,” Detroit News (12 December 1993).
  37.  Patrick Boyle, “Scare Ads Effective as Police Fight Cuts,” Washington Times (26 March 1992).
  38. “Police Union Threatens to Scare Tourists,” Washington Times (25 March 1992).
  39.  Troy, The New Unionism

Chapter 5

  1. William Claiborne, “New York Tries to Cope With Powerful Municipal Unions, “ Washington Post (13 July 1975).
  2. James T. Bennett and Manuel H. Johnson,  Better Government at Half the Price: Private Production of Public Services (Ottawa, IL: Caroline House, 1981)
  3. Statistical Abstract of the United States–1972 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Bureau), pp. 389, 409; Statistical Abstract of the United States—1997
  4. National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, The American Arbitration Association; Preserving Big Labor’s Forced-Unionism Agenda by Undermining Supreme Court Doctrine, Issue Briefing
  5. Neal R. Peirce, “Binding Arbitration Leads Detroit Toward Bankruptcy,” Toledo Blade (18 July 1980).
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Ken Auletta, The Streets Were Paved with Gold: The Decline of New York, an American Tragedy (New York: Random House, 1979)
  10. Victor Riesel, “Crippling NYC Strike?” Register Santra (29 December 1977).
  11. Robert Zevin, “New York City Crisis: First Act in a New Age of Reaction.” In The Fiscal Crisis of American Cities, ed. Roger E. Alcaly and David Mermelstein, (New York: Vintage, 1977)
  12. Thomas Leonard, Cynthia Crippen, and Marc Aronson, Day by Day: The Seventies, vol. 1, May 14.
  13. Ibid., June 11.
  14. Ibid., September 10.
  15. Ibid., October 17.
  16. Ibid., October 20.
  17. Ibid., November 25.
  18. Ibid., December 9.
  19. Claiborne, “New York Tries to Cope.”
  20. Leo Troy, The New Unionism in the New Society: Public Sector Unions in the Redistributive State (Fairfax, Va.: George Mason University Press, 1994), 76; “Bridgeport, Conn.,” U.S. News & World Report (24 June 1991)
  21. Daniel R. Levine, “How Unions Looted the City of Brotherly Love,” Reader’s Digest (May 1993).
  22. Ibid.
  23. Ibid.
  24. Robert Lenzner with Lisa Coleman, “The Philadelphia Story,” Forbes (9 November 1992)
  25. Ibid.
  26. Ibid.
  27. Ibid.
  28. Ibid.
  29. Ibid.
  30. Ibid.
  31. Ibid.
  32. Lenzner, op. cit.
  33. John E. Berthoud, “The Teacher Union Leadership vs. Members: Update on   NEA and AFT PAC Contributions,” Alexis de Tocqueville Institute Brief 138 (31 October 1996)
  34. Estimates by National Institute for Labor Relations Research, based on U.S. Census Bureau reports.  In states which impose monopoly bargaining and compulsory fee requirements on state workers showed an average per capita burden on citizens of $2,756; spending, $2,750; and debt, $2,115.  Expenses and debt combined equals $4,865.However, in states which DO NOT impose monopoly bargaining and compulsory fee requirements on state workers the research showed an average per capita burden on citizens of $2,164; spending, $2,125; debt, $998.  Expenses and debt combined equals $3,123.
  35. Ibid.
  36. Ibid.
  37. Government Union Review 21 (spring 1995).
  38. NB: the results of Kennedy’s Executive Order 10988 are cited in Bennett and Johnson, Better Government

Chapter 6

  1. Who’s Ruining Our Schools? (Washington, D.C.: Save Our Schools Research and Development, 1988)
  2. Ibid., 16-17.
  3. Sally Reed, NEA: Propaganda Front of the Radical Left (National Council for Better Education, 1984)
  4. Bohdan Hodiak, “Hiring Rules Frustrate Black Teacher,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (1 September 1993).
  5. Harold Smith, “Extra-Curricular Activities,” Christianity Today (15 March 1985).
  6.  Maribeth Vander Weele, “An up-close look at teacher unions,” American School Board Journal (July 1995).
  7. Peter Brimelow and Leslie Spencer, “The National Extortion Association,” Forbes (7 June 1993).
  8. Vander Weele, “An up-close look.”
  9. Brimelow and Spencer, “National Extortion.”
  10. Marshall O. Donley, Jr., Power to the Teacher (Bloomington: Indiana University Press)
  11. Brimelow and Spencer, “National Extortion.”
  12.  Samuel Blumenfeld, NEA: Trojan Horse in American Education (Boise, Idaho: Paradigm Company, 1985)
  13. Ibid.
  14. Teri Sforza, “Union’s ‘Fair Share’ Called Unfair by Some Teachers,” San Diego Union (30 September 1991).
  15. Ibid.
  16. Who’s Ruining Our Schools?
  17. Ibid.
  18. Ibid.
  19. Who’s Ruining Our Schools?  9
  20. Charlene Haar, Myron Lieberman, and Leo Troy, The NEA and AFT: Teacher Unions in Power Politics (Cambridge, Mass.: Pro Active Publications, 1994), 57.
  21.  Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 431 U.S. 209 at 242.
  22. Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson, 475 U.S. 292 at 309.
  23. Mike Antonucci, “Fee-payers Dispute CTA Political Spending,” Inside California (February 1997)
  24. Rules for Impartial Determination of Union Fees, as Amended and in Effect January 1, 1988 (New York: American Arbitration Association, 1988)
  25. Ibid.
  26. Chicago Teachers Union, at 303, fn.12.
  27. “The Nation’s New Schoolmistrss,”  Newsweek  (12 November 1979).
  28. “Education thugs,” Heterodoxy (November/December 1994)
  29. How Compulsory Unionism
  30. “Education thugs.”
  31. Who’s Ruining Our Schools?
  32. Ibid.
  33. Ibid.
  34. Jean Merl, “Teacher Union Comes Out Big Winner in School Vote,” Los Angeles Times (11 April 1991).
  35. Brimelow and Spencer, “National Extortion.”
  36. David Kendrick, Uniserv (Washington, D.C.: The National Institute for Labor Relations Research)
  37. “Alinski for Teacher Organizers,” quoted in Kendrick , Uniserv
  38. Ibid.
  39. “State Teachers Union Official Arrested in Michigan City in Vandalism Incident,” Indianapolis Star (4 March 1985).
  40. Kendrick, Uniserv.
  41. Brimelow and Spencer, “National Extortion.”
  42. “Gunshots Fired in Teachers’ Strike,” Cleveland Press (19 October 1978).
  43. Brimelow and Spencer, “National Extortion.”
  44. Loraine Woellert, “Education lobby gets 1.6 million tax break,” Washington Times (15 April 1995).
  45. Brimelow and Spencer, “National Extortion.”
  46. Ibid.
  47. David Farrell, “Think Tank Flunks Teacher Insurance,” Detroit News (18 November 1993).
  48. Brimelow and Spencer, “National Extortion.”
  49. Ibid.
  50. ”Education thugs”

Chapter 7

  1. Quoted in Who’s Ruining Our Schools? (Washington, D.C.: Save Our Schools Research and Development, 1988)
  2. Quoted in Samuel L. Blumenfeld, NEA: Trojan Horse in American Education (Boise: Paradigm Company, 1985)
  3. Peter Brimelow and Leslie Spencer, “National Extortion Association?” Forbes (7 June 1993)
  4. “Union Bosses Bankroll Reported Pedophile’s Efforts to Stay in Classroom,” Foundation Action (October 1994)
  5. Walter E. Williams, Do the Right Thing (Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 1995),  83.
  6. Who’s Ruining Our Schools?
  7. Sally Reed, NEA: Propaganda Front of the Radical Left (National Council for Better Education, 1984)
  8. “What Schools Teach and Don’t Teach,” Phyllis Schlafly Report (November 1994): 2.
  9. Charles J. Sykes, Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why America’s Children Feel Good about Themselves but Can’t Read, Write, or Add (New York: St. Martin’s, 1995), 93.
  10. Ibid., 98.
  11. Peter Brimelow and Leslie Spencer, “Comeuppance,” Forbes (13 February 1995)
  12. Peter Brimelow and Leslie Spencer, “National Extortion Association, Forbes (7 June 1993)
  13. Ibid.
  14. Blumenfeld, NEA: Trojan Horse 
  15. Sykes, Dumbing Down, 102.
  16. “Whole Language Is for Everybody,” promotional flyer from the National Education Association.
  17. Lynne V. Cheney, “Foreword.” In Report Card on American Education (Washington, D.C.: American Legislative Exchange Council, September 1994)
  18. Sykes, Dumbing Down, 248-249.
  19. Ibid.
  20. Ibid. 247.
  21. Ibid.
  22. Who’s Ruining Our Schools?
  23. Ibid.
  24. “What Schools Teach”
  25. Sykes, Dumbing Down
  26. Ibid.
  27. Ibid.
  28. Dean Snyder, “Teacher union spells disaster,” York [Pennsylvania] Daily Record (27 February 1994).
  29. Reed, NEA: Propaganda Front
  30. “The 1994-95 Resolutions of the National Education Association,” NEA Today (September 1994)
  31. Peter West, “Fla. Union Vows To Fight District’s ‘Americanism’ Policy,” Education Week (25 May 1994).
  32. All examples from “The 1994-95 Resolutions of the National Education Association,” NEA Today (September 1994)
  33. All examples from Phyllis Schafley, “NEA Admits Using Classroom Tactics,” Manchester [New Hampshire] Union Leader (22 February 1985).
  34. Ibid.
  35. Brimelow and Spencer, “National Extortion”

Chapter 8

NB: On page 102, the information in the second paragraph regarding the number of House members who supported the repeal of Right to Work and were defeated in 1966 comes from “Labor Takes a Drubbing in Voting for Congress,” Portland Oregonian (12 November 1966).

The quote from Al Barkin appeared in the Washington Post (November 13, 1966).