Paycheck protection detractors defend using taxpayer resources for partisan politics by insisting union members can voluntarily deduct political donations from their paychecks, but this excuse misses the point.
Taxpayers aren't offered a choice. They're forced to play a role in the political campaigns of government unions.
The purpose of paycheck protection is not to make all payroll deductions voluntary but to remove taxpayers from serving as the unions’ personal collection agency for political cash. Far from being voluntary, taxpayers are compelled to subsidize the political agenda of government unions.
But even if we ignore the forced association mandated by automatic dues and PAC deductions, there is still a problem with defending the practice as voluntary for union members.
As my colleague Nate pointed out last month, many members don't know their union dues fund political activities. So if a state employee authorizes a payroll deduction for the full amount of union dues, it's possible they’re unknowingly sending their money to political causes they find distasteful.
John Cress, a teacher in Lawrence County, was just one of many who didn't know his union dues were being used for political activities:
But what I didn't know was that the union would withold dues money out of my paycheck every month, like taxes, and spend it on political ads and causes that turn my stomach.
I'd always been told that union dues can't be used for politics—and I believed it.
If lawmakers were to pass paycheck protection legislation currently pending in the House, it would require unions to ask their members for a political donation, which is a much more transparent process than the one members operate under now.
By adopting paycheck protection, teachers like John would no longer be left in the dark about their union's political spending habits, and taxpayers wouldn't be forced to subsidize the stealthy political operations of government unions.