Letters: It’s not a day for unions
Most Americans realize that Labor Day is about celebrating workers and their contribution to our free society, but that won’t stop union bosses from stealing the spotlight to push their own agenda. Despite this, there is still much to celebrate this Labor Day. Workers from across the country have made substantial gains for workplace freedom.
In America’s newest right-to-work state, a growing number of workers from across Michigan are joining the fight to protect their right to work from union bosses. In Wisconsin, the state Supreme Court upheld Gov. Scott Walker’s public-sector unionism reforms, commonly known as “Act 10,” which grants right-to-work protections to most government employees.
Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga, Tenn., staved off unwanted United Auto Workers unionization via a backroom deal between company and union officials that featured a coercive card check campaign.
And in Illinois, a mother named Pam Harris, joined by other parents and family members who provide home-based personal care to special needs individuals, took a corrupt quid pro quo government unionization scheme all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In that case, now-imprisoned former Illinois Gov. Rob Blagojevich and current Gov. Pat Quinn issued executive orders designed to force home-based personal care providers into SEIU ranks. The court struck down the scheme, ruling that individuals who indirectly receive state subsidies based on their clientele cannot be forced to pay compulsory union fees. The court’s ruling renders unconstitutional similar unionization schemes in effect in at least 13 other states.
In the wake of the court’s ruling, SEIU officials were forced to back down from demanding $11 million in annual forced dues payments from 25,000 Illinois providers.
Furthermore, the effects of that ruling are reverberating across the nation and an estimated 500,000 home-based personal care and childcare providers could now be freed from $80 million in annual forced union dues.
But despite these big victories for worker freedom, more work remains.
In the 26 states without right-to-work laws, workers who want to refrain from union membership can be fired for refusing to pay union dues. What’s more, millions more nonmember workers have no choice but to accept union bargaining over their wages and working conditions, even if they want nothing to do with the union.
This despite the fact that poll after poll shows that the American people overwhelmingly oppose forced union dues and affiliation and over 93 percent of private-sector workers have chosen not to join a union.
That’s why, as we saw in Illinois, union officials are increasingly reliant on their forced union dues-funded political activism to protect and expand their government-granted legal privileges of compulsion and extortion. For union officials, political activism takes precedence over protecting worker rights. And why not? Big Labor’s
$1.7 billion forced-dues funded political machine enables Big Labor to wield an immense amount of clout in Washington, D.C., and state capitals.
So why should union officials bother with the hard work of representing employees if they’re sitting on a forced-dues revenue stream guaranteed by the government? As we are seeing in Michigan, Tennessee, Illinois, and beyond, workers are waking up to the fact that this flood of forced-dues cash also breeds extravagance, abuse and corruption. In more than 200 active cases nationwide, Foundation attorneys are helping thousands of Americans like Pam Harris stand up for their rights against union official corruption, intimidation and even violence.
Perhaps this Labor Day, union officials for their own sake should take a step back and reexamine why millions of American workers want nothing to do with a union.
Mix is president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.