The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday reversed itself and ruled to uphold a Utah statute prohibiting union officials from using payroll deductions to divert teachers’ and other government workers’ money into union electioneering.
“Utah has a legitimate interest in avoiding the reality or appearance of government entanglement with partisan politics,” according to the ruling, and Utah’s Voluntary Contributions Act “plainly serves the state’s interest in separating public employment from political activities.”
Five Utah labor unions and one association of labor unions – representing several thousand Utah public employees – brought the suit against Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, seeking a declaration that the Utah VCA, a law passed in 2001, is unconstitutional as applied to all public employers other than the state itself.
After initially siding with union attorneys who argued the law somehow violated the constitutional rights of the union, the 10th Circuit Court put the case on hold pending the outcome of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling involving a similar Idaho statute.
“The recent Supreme Court’s decision and now this 10th Circuit ruling makes clear what should have been obvious: Union officials have no constitutional right to use government resources to line their pockets,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation, which advocates for right-to-work states, including Utah. “It is bad public policy for government bodies essentially to act as bagmen for union political monies.”