Forced Dues Help Politicians Who Hurt Workers

Voluntary Unionism Key to Curtailing Big Labor Political Abuses

(Source: November-December 2014 National Right to Work Committee Newsletter)

In this year’s general elections, at least 70% of union household members nationwide either cast their ballots for U.S. House and/or Senate candidates opposed by Big Labor, or preferred not to vote at all. But union bosses, it often seems, feel free to ignore what workers think due to their forced-dues privileges.

laborerers-nlAfter reviewing union bosses’ reported expenditures in the 2013-2014 election cycle, National Right to Work Committee Vice President Mary King observed:

“Just like other Americans, union household members should have the right to choose personally which candidates, if any, they will financially support.”

Lies Help Union Bosses Grab Compulsory-Dues Dollars For Electioneering Schemes

Federal law grants union officials extraordinary power over individual workers. Except in Right to Work states, federal law authorizes Big Labor to get workers in a broad array of industries fired for refusal to fork over forced union dues or fees.

But in theory, Big Labor shouldn’t be able to get away with using a worker’s forced-dues money to cancel out his or her own vote, or to help one candidate in a race when the worker favors none.

Under court precedents won by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, forced dues-paying workers who never join or resign from the union have the right to pay a forced, but reduced, union “agency” fee rather than full forced dues.

And objecting workers’ forced fees are not supposed to be spent on politics or electioneering.

However, as countless Foundation cases show, union bosses routinely lie to workers. Workers are falsely told they have to join the union, or that they can’t automatically resign.

Time and again, workers are tricked by such falsehoods and pay full union dues to save their jobs.

“By exploiting their legal privileges and intimidating workers, Big Labor was able to pour an estimated $1.7 billion into electioneering and lobbying in the 2011-2012 campaign cycle,” said Ms. King.

Roughly 38% of the 12.7 million union household members who voted in the November congressional elections cast their ballots for Republican candidates. And fewer than half of the union household members nationwide who were eligible to vote this fall cast any ballot at all.

Yet regardless of which party candidates union members, their spouses, and other adult members of their households voted for, if any at all, Big Labor bosses overwhelmingly bankrolled the campaigns of union-label Democrat politicians with money extracted out of the unionized workers’ paychecks.

Top Union Boss Admits Big Labor-Backed Politicians ‘Have Lost Their Way’

Big Labor doesn’t funnel vast sums of workers’ forced dues and fees into backing Democratic candidates because union officials believe those candidates will do what’s best for unionized workers. Rather, union chiefs believe a close political alliance with the Democratic Party advances their institutional interests.

A compelling case in point is Terry O’Sullivan, general president of the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA/AFL-CIO).

Mr. O’Sullivan publicly claims, and undoubtedly sincerely believes, that securing federal approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would facilitate the transport of crude oil from Canada into the U.S., is a very important issue for the workers whom he purports to represent.

After a filibuster backed by 41 Senate Democrats, but no Republicans, blocked approval of the Keystone XL on November 18, Mr. O’Sullivan bitterly complained:

“The majority of Democrats in the Senate and the White House just don’t get it, even though the recent election results surely should have sunk in by now. They have lost their way, their purpose and their base.”

But when Mr. O’Sullivan aired this grievance, Laborers Union bosses had just directed 89% of the two million dollars their national PAC spent on federal politics in 2013-2014 into congressional Democrat politicians’ campaigns.

And the union’s unreported, forced dues-funded “in-kind” contributions doubtless also went overwhelmingly to “lost” Democrat politicians.

Ms. King concluded: “Whenever union bosses like Terry O’Sullivan have a choice between pouring forced-dues union treasury money into a candidate who will help workers, and a candidate who backs more special privileges for Big Labor, they invariably opt for the latter.

“And the only sure way to change the union bosses’ ways is to take away their forced-dues privileges.”