What Mitt Is Missing

Mitt RomneyUnion bosses always profess to care most about the rights of members. But a careful reading of a feverish sermon in the left-of-center magazine In These Times reveals that their biggest worry is maintaining their control over workers’ pocketbooks, and so their own political punch.

The review of the nine points in Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s purported master plan to “annihilate” the unions contains a lot of grumbling about card check, repealing the Davis-Bacon Act (guaranteeing certain wages on government projects), and “stripping bargaining rights” from workers, which is how the labor reforms proposed by Wisconsin governor Scott Walker and Ohio governor John Kasich are characterized. Throughout, however, one issue keeps cropping up: the unions’ ability to directly access workers’ earnings and spend that money unrestrictedly, which is not officially in Romney’s plan. In the end, they admit that as bad as his plan may be, they can probably live with it. Their real bottom line, their sacred cow, that thing that you must not touch is “automatic dues deduction.”

Automatic dues deduction seems innocent enough on the surface. But what happens in effect is that workers are forced to donate their earnings to a pot that the union bosses use to fund their political agenda, an agenda the workers may or may not support, leaving the bosses with an unlimited funding source to promote their own interests. This makes it clear: The union bosses’ goal is not really to protect working families—it is to protect their own right to take money directly out of union worker’s checks without so much as a please, let alone a thank you.

The notion that the way this money is spent might be restricted to non-political activities, or better yet that the practice be eliminated altogether, is what the unions really hated about Walker and Kasich’s proposed reforms, and it should be a top priority here in Pennsylvania. Ours is one of 27 states with forced unionism, which includes compulsory payment of dues as a condition of employment.

“Automatic dues deduction” is an indefensible practice that is no better than extortion, and in a country that values the individual’s freedom to make their own choices it must not be tolerated. Workers should not be forced to contribute to a political agenda just to keep their jobs.

Or, to put it differently, Mr. Romney’s nine-point plan sorely needs a tenth—and those of us who love freedom here in Pennsylvania need to make freeing workers from such coercion our first point.

No other private organization has the ability to use the government to extract dues, fees, and political action dollars from employees. Why should we keep letting union bosses do it?