Saturday, April 02, 2011

Chicago's Tom Geoghegan on the right to not pay Union Dues

Wisconsin's all about coercive payment of Unions dues, and Unions well founded knowledge many workers would refuse to pay them without automatically deducting union dues from employee paychecks. Progressive Tom Geoghegan is quoted by John Fund today suggesting that automatic collection hasn't served Unions very well,
Union officials recognize what can happen if dues payments become voluntary. Robert Chanin, who was general counsel of the National Education Association from 1968 to 2009, said in a U.S. District Court oral argument in 1978 that "it is well-recognized that if you take away the mechanism of payroll deduction, you won't collect a penny from these people, and it has nothing to do with voluntary or involuntary. I think it has to do with the nature of the beast, and the beasts who are our teachers . . . simply don't come up with the money regardless of the purpose."

There is evidence to back up his fears. In 2001, Utah made the collection of payments to union political funds optional, and nearly 95% of public school teachers opted not to pay. In 2005, Indiana GOP Gov. Mitch Daniels limited collective-bargaining rights for public employees, and today only 5% of state employees pay union dues.

Some union supporters recognize the problems with coercive dues payments. Tom Geoghegan, a noted union lawyer, wrote in the Nation magazine last November that it should be "a civil right to join, or not to join, a labor union." He said it was time to "repackage labor law reform, even over the protest of organized labor itself." He noted that workers in countries "like Germany are free not to pay [their dues]—and many don't." Indeed, the U.S. is filled with powerful groups, such as the American Association of Retired Persons, that thrive on voluntary payments because they are seen as providing genuine services to members.

Even Ms. Kloppenburg, the favored candidate of unions, doesn't like paying mandatory dues. In 2009, she responded to a survey by saying the Wisconsin Bar Association should become "voluntary." Then it would be "better situated and motivated to be more transparent, be more accountable, be more responsive." She went on to say that government attorneys such as herself "do not benefit as much as private attorneys from the non-reimbursed dues that we pay."
Unions might turn out to be better and more effective organizations that severed their members instead of Family Dynasty's (i.e. The Balanoffs of Chicago) if they had to scramble a little for those pledges.

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