Paycheck Protection Debate Heats Up

In the statewide debate over paycheck protection, a pair of dueling letters to the editor in Lancaster County cut to the chase.

First, a Mount Joy resident who received a mailing on paycheck protection said its claims that union dues are used for politics “almost reach the level of fraud.”

The letter writer went on in “Paycheck protection bill is anti-union” (via

[The mailer] tries to make us believe that union dues are used for political purposes. The laws forbid that. If unions were breaking the law, they would be prosecuting every union in the state.

Unions that get involved in the political arena do so with donations from members beyond dues, and those donations are never tied to payroll deductions. The only members who donate to political causes do so because they want to.

Unfortunately, there is no such law banning dues in politics. In response, a self-described “life member of NEA and PSEA” from Providence Township wrote the letter “Unions a tool of Dems:

His argument considered the dues deduction to be apolitical and indicated union members must give separate PAC donations to the union, which are specific for political action activities.

. . .

I have never given money to the PAC because it did not and does not represent a conservative perspective. Fine, I made my choice.

However, every publication that mentions anything political is hardly even-handed and it is fair to say the conservative perspective is never represented in any union literature.

Hence, the union, and my dues, have become a defacto full-time lobbying tool for the Democratic Party among its tens of thousands of members.

Who’s got it right?

From $1.3 million of dues spent by government union UFCW on ads against liquor privatization to PSEA—the state’s largest public union—telling its members that more than $7 million of their dues money will be spent on political activity and lobbying, it’s beyond doubt that both members’ dues and PAC contributions are used for partisan politics.

And nearly all that political money is collected by taxpayers.

The letter writer who favors paycheck protection goes on to say it would empower workers with more control over how their dues money is spent:

Like anything else, we think twice when we pull money out of our pockets or write a check. Is this one of those instances, when the extra time, thought, and care that writing a check forces should be exercised?

If unions are as valuable as they claim, “The Paycheck Protection Bill” should be no threat for this important decision confronting workers.

Coming from a government union member, that says a lot. But it shouldn’t come as a surprise. The majority of Pennsylvania union households agree: 58 percent support paycheck protection.