Of Unions and “Limited Resources”

After a lament in the American Prospect about how the Left is being outmatched and left behind in state-based advocacy, now The Nation has chimed in with its own piece on just how nefariously successful local advocates of liberty are.

While describing the state-based freedom movement with terms like “extreme,” “aggressive,” and “unscrupulous,” it also includes this choice sentence: 

Labor unions, on the other hand, spend the majority of their limited resources on member services like bargaining; their political money is mostly spent on candidate donations rather than the kind of rapid-response permanent campaign now embraced by their opposition.

Get it?  It’s the union leadership that has “limited resources”—the same union leadership that spends serious money.  The Pennsylvania State Education Association, our largest government union, alone spent $3.25 million in 2012 on “political activity and lobbying”!

The Nation has it backwards.  In our commonwealth, government employee unions get to collect their dues (often hundreds of dollars a year) by having government accountants deduct them from workers’ paychecks before employees even see that money. 

This makes it much harder for, say, a public school teacher to see just how much of her hard-earned money is going to fund the union—or have a say in how that money is spent.  Often, union money goes toward funding political causes that teachers may not agree with, or even oppose.  And even if a teacher opts out of union membership, she may still be compelled to pay a “fair share fee” to the union just to keep her job.

That is why we at CF think the government union leadership, just like any other private organization in this country, should collect its own dues the old-fashioned way: by asking its members for them.  This is not “anti-teacher,” “anti-worker,” or “anti-union.”  It is simply common sense.