“To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” – Thomas Jefferson
Longtime readers of my work know that I’ve been exposing the compulsory-union dues racket since my days as a columnist at the Seattle Times. Here’s my 1999 column on how public school teachers in Washington state challenged their union over their political dues power grab. Here are your rights as a union worker. Here is a backgrounder on the permissible use of forced dues. As I wrote on Labor Day in 2010, free speech not only means the freedom to voice your political views, but also the freedom from being forced to pay for someone else’s.
U.S. Supreme Court precedent established by the D.C.-based National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation guarantees the right to full financial disclosure from a union and a right to challenge the figures in court if they disagree.
More and more rank-and-file union members have been speaking up against the confiscation of their dues for political purposes they oppose. Remember this Chicago SEIU member from 2010?
Or this letter from a Minnesota teacher last year?
As events have unfolded in Wisconsin, I have been reflecting on my nearly 10 years in public education. My parents were both teachers and I greatly admired the work they did with their own students. I began with that same passion for teaching that they instilled in me, but am finding it more and more difficult to keep that flame alive.
The hold that unions have over the public educational system is nothing short of toxic. Year after year, I have a lot of money taken out of my paychecks for union dues. What do I get for my money? I am bombarded with emails and flyers “urging” us to vote for candidates that coincidentally always have the letter (D) after them. I get to be lectured to by union reps about the evil Republican candidates are and why they know what is best for me.
Now I am being hit with email after email “urging” me to stand with the teachers of Wisconsin. One teacher who is very tight with our union replied to our district making fun of Republicans directly. You might ask why I don’t forward this to human resources, but the repercussions would be brutal.
The truth is that any teacher who does not hold down the talking points of the unions, DNC or Obama White House needs to keep quiet to keep their job. The vitriol I heard over the Bush years was deafening but acceptable and expected. I can hardly remember a week that went by where teachers, sometimes in front of students, were not making fun of Republicans. I’ve personally been the subject of much ridicule and scorn from fellow teachers and will continue to be as long as I am in public education. I believe in what I am doing in my own classroom by focusing on educating students, but as time goes by it is becoming more and more likely that I will leave education all together. Not because of students, but because of the unions and the teachers that support them.
Frustrated in Minnesota
Well, today on Capitol Hill, more brave union members are testifying about the Big Labor money machine forcibly fueled with their hard-earned money. You can watch the proceedings live at 10am at the House Oversight website. You can read the prepared testimony of Mr. Terry Bowman of Ypsilanti, Michigan, Ms. Claire Waites of Daphne, Alabama and Ms. Sally Coomer of Duvall, Washington here.
Chairman Darrell Issa’s opening statement:
Every worker should have the choice to decide whether their money is taken from their paychecks and used to fund political activity. When this occurs, a worker should also have the right to know how their money is spent.
Individual freedom and personal choice are cornerstones of our democratic government—they are also at the heart of union participation in America.
Today’s hearing will examine the process by which union dues are collected and how transparent unions are about this process. The Committee’s focus is not an examination of the validity of unions or their right to exist, but rather an effort to ensure that the political activity of unions does not infringe the freedoms of workers.
Because of recent court decisions and a systematic effort by the Obama Administration to reduce union transparency and reporting requirements, union workers do not currently know how much of the money from their paycheck dues is being funneled to SuperPACs or used for other political activity. The Administration has also drastically reduced the Department of Labor’s ability to effectively audit labor organizations.
These actions will have far-reaching consequences. I welcome the union workers who have agreed to testify today and appreciate their willingness to speak their mind about what they see as unjust restrictions on their freedom of choice in our democracy.
Kudos to Rep. Issa — and especially to the rank-and-file members speaking truth to union thug power.