Tuesday, October 07, 2014


How would you react if your employer informed you he would be taking a modest cut from your paycheck each month for his political action committee? What if he told you that if you try to opt out of this arrangement he'd hassle you and might fight you all the way to the Supreme Court?

Did you know that labor unions already do this? And for the most part, they have been getting away with it. That's why it's heartening to see a new report, from the Washington Examiner's Sean Higgins, that Republicans plan to take up federal labor law if they win the Senate in next month's elections.

Legal precedent has for three decades supposedly guaranteed the First Amendment rights of nonunion workers — who are nonetheless required to pay dues — to avoid subsidizing Big Labor's political drives. But Knox v. SEIU, which ended in a 2012 Supreme Court decision, demonstrates how this guarantee often fails in practice.

In 2005, SEIU abruptly raised its dues for the California public employees it represented for the explicit purpose of creating a $12 million campaign fund to defeat two state ballot measures. The union offered no opportunity for workers to opt out of contributing, unless they sought a refund the following year.

It took the better part of a decade for the public employees who sued the union to have their First Amendment freedom of association vindicated. At one stage, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals tried to invalidate their rights altogether in favor of a supposed union right to collect their money.

Republicans now want to fix this gross injustice by means of an Employee Rights Act if they take control of the Senate. The bill would require unions to get members' affirmative permission to use their money for political activity. Workers who support union political drives could still contribute, but workers who want union representation, or who have been forced to accept it against their will, would be protected from funding causes they dislike.

The bill would also force unions to show their members how their money is being spent. Most political expenditures go under the radar and are reported only long after elections are over, and even then only in opaque annual filings with the Department of Labor. When the Wall Street Journal scrutinized these reports in 2012, it found union political spending to be about four times greater than what was then believed.

Democrats in Washington have made a fuss recently about big money and so-called dark money in elections. Last month, 49 Democratic senators actually voted to weaken the First Amendment to halt the supposedly corrupting influence of money on politics. Yes, they would actually amend the Bill of Rights to blunt the influence of private donors who don't share their views. One might take their bleating seriously on this matter if they first acknowledged the egregious wrong of forcing workers to fund political spending out of their paychecks.

I posted every word of that Examiner story, so you will easily see that "Beck"  in not mentioned al all.  WTF?  Nada.  The landmark 1988 Beck decision, in a nutshell, forced unions to get specific authorization from each member before they could spend their portion of dues on political activities.  It also stipulated that notices to that effect be placed in the work place so all members were aware of that right.  By the by, that decison was made by  some of the most liberal judges in the courts history.  To wit:

BRENNAN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST, C. J., and WHITE, THURGOOD MARSHALL, and STEVENS, JJ., joined, and in Parts I and II of which HARRY  BLACKMUN, O'CONNOR, and SCALIA, JJ., joined. BLACKMUN, J., filed an opinion concurring in part [source]

Needless to say, unions were none too happy.  So, they did what liberals always do with court decisions and law they don't like.  They ignored it, and nobody did anything about it.

Here's the beginning of a post I made in 2006 about the continued noncomplience of unions.  Nothing has changed.

Shakespeare kept a copy of Nostradamus at his bedside, which probably accounts for the passage, "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers turned judge by Carter and Clinton." That's the famous passage as it appeared in the draft manuscript of King Henry VI. The Bard, however, feared that high school students would be put off by so enigmatic a reference, so it was altered.

Too bad.

Nearly a 20 years ago the U. S. Supreme Court established what are now known as "Beck rights" in the landmark decision Communication Workers v. Beck.1 Beck rights dictate that workers cannot be forced under union contracts to pay any dues or fees beyond those necessary for the performance of the union's employee representation duties.¹. To that end, employers were supposed to post notices so employees would be made aware, and know where they could report violations [Etc].


Anonymous said...

My first job out of college was "Trust Accountant" for the Missouri Carpenters Union. Those poor people got skinned pretty bad. The amount of money that was removed from them and sent to the Union to piss away was far in excess of what we took to manage their retirement funds, poorly. Never heard any complaints, I guess it comes with the territory when you are "union strong". -Anymouse

Anonymous said...

Corporations do this to us all the time.
For example I would like to have a-la-carte cable service. I don't want to pay for all those rerun and religious stations, because I don't watch them. Comcast doesn't want me to have a-la-carte programming, because they make money for carrying all those stations. Comcast takes part of the money I give them and they buy congress critters to make sure no laws are passed forcing the cable company allow a-la-carte cable. When comcast wants to give the congress critters even more money, just to make sure that law isn't passed, they raise MY rates. I end up paying for the campaign to have something happen which I don't want to happen.

CF in CO

Anonymous said...

CF in CO
That is the market at work. It is not required by an act of congress to subscribe to cable TV. If you work as a pipefitter in Podunkia, GA, and are required to be in the union to work at the local radiation plant, you will pay the dues, or will not work.
That's a bit different, IMO.
I, too, do not like the cable bundle forcing, but it is not the same, IMO. You could say the same thing about auto makers who require accessory 'packages' which include things you don't want, but you can buy a different vehicle.
My wife was a forced contributor to the CWA for 30 years. When the law was passed requiring the union to refund her 'political' expense contribution money, she filled in the forms to request a refund, and it was pennies.
They lied then and they lie now.

I am really beginning to hate unions. They fool their membership into believing they are a brotherhood, while they pat you on the back finding a place to put the knife. The 'officers' pad their expense accounts and are paid as executives. I have known of 'locals' that took their girfriend on a trip to Hawaii, (from Cleveland in February) as his 'assistant'... on the union dime. Same old story. They have become what they supposedly despised back in the 1930's when most got their formation and strength from Congress, by the NLRA. Took away the rights of the employer straight out.
Same thing today with the 'minimum wage' brouhaha.

Anonymous said...

Why not attack the problem from both ends? While trying to get this passed, also work to ban public sector unions.

Anonymous said...

Corporations do this to us all the time.
At a “not to be named” Telecom manufacturing company, all employees above a certain salary grade contributed 6% to the PAC. There was no favoritism. The PAC contributed to all candidates for any office that might have a say in regulating telecom.
That way our lobbyists were welcome in the office of any regulator. Unless or course, he didn’t plan to run for office in the next election.
A Mudgeon from Texas

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