Putting The Brakes On Unions' Free Ride On Employee Dues

Putting The Brakes On Unions' Free Ride On Employee Dues

Echoing the union party line, the recently termed-out president of the National Education Association, Dennis Van Roekel, insists that all workers in a unionized industry should be required to pay union dues, their so-called “fair share.”

Speaking about the nation’s 3 million teachers, he says:

“Fair share simply makes sure that all educators share the cost of negotiations for benefits that all educators enjoy, regardless of whether they are association members.”

Sounds reasonable, right? But what Van Roekel and other union bosses fail to mention is that the unions demand exclusive bargaining rights for all teachers, so teachers in monopoly bargaining states have no choice but to go along with the union mandate. They are not allowed to negotiate their own contracts or hire a third party to bargain for salary, perks, etc.

There is nothing “fair” about forcing a worker to pay dues to an organization that he or she does not want to belong to. Yet this is the rule in 26 of our 50 states.

But there was an encouraging note in a recent Supreme Court decision. On June 30, the Court ruled in Harris v. Quinn that home health-care workers could not be forced to pay “agency fees” to the Service Employees International Union.

The agency fee is the part of union dues that goes toward collective bargaining and related activities. (As per the Court’s 1977 Abood decision, workers do not have to support the union’s political advocacy.)

Justice Samuel Alito added that for public sector workers, all collective bargaining issues are inherently political. This part of the ruling leaves the door open for the court to take the next step and make public employee union membership optional nationwide.

In fact, there is a case waiting in the wings that could lead the court to take that step. Friedrichs et al v. CTA is on a path to reach the Supreme Court within a year or two. This litigation has 10 teachers and the Christian Educators Association International — a union alternative — taking on the California Teachers Association.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers are challenging California’s “agency shop” law, siding with Alito that collective bargaining is by its nature political and that all union dues should be voluntary.

In the meantime, many workers continue to pay forced dues throughout most of the country. But what many in the monopoly bargaining states don’t know is that while they must pay the agency fee, they do not have to support the union’s political spending, which invariably goes in only one direction — left.

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues. This article originally appeared in Investors Business Daily and is republished here with permission from the author.

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