Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Employee Freedom Inspiration: Missouri Considers Paycheck Protection

The reverberations of Michigan becoming a right-to-work state aren’t likely to settle anytime soon. Vincent Vernuccio and Joseph Lehman wrote in the Wall Street Journal that inspiration can be found in the story of Michigan’s right-to-work law passage: “The inspiration comes to the supporters of worker freedom that if Michigan can give union members a choice, so can they.”

It looks like Missouri lawmakers are inspired. Although they aren’t looking to pass a right-to-work law, they are hoping to extend some more freedom to union members. Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones has put paycheck protection on the list of the body’s legislative priorities for 2013.

Paycheck protection is often seen as one of the most popular labor law reforms. The bill that Missouri legislators want to pass would require unions and employers to receive an annual written confirmation from the employee before money can be deducted from his or her paycheck to cover political spending. They are attempting to pass paycheck protection for both public and private sector unions.

Paycheck protection is one of the tenants of the federal Employee Rights Act, which was championed by soon-to-be-Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina in the last Congress.

As Jones notes:

“Money is extremely important to the labor unions. They are the biggest opponents to us on that level and I look at what happened in this last campaign cycle and most of the Democrats in this state rely on that money which is forced from hard-working workers into those coffers.” [emphasis added].

It hardly requires mention that but for the political money at stake, right-to-work would be a non-issue. In any other context, no politician, much less the President of the United States, would be advocating for a forced association. Labor’s best argument against paycheck protection is a false equivalency with shareholders of a corporation. As our Managing Director J. Justin Wilson wrote in the Columbus Dispatch:

Corporate shareholders can, at any time, sell their shares if they disagree with the corporation’s activities.

Conversely, in 27 [now 26] states, including Ohio, many employees are forced to be dues-paying members of a union in order to keep their jobs, with no direct control over which candidates receive union support. Refunds for the portion of their union dues that went to political activity can only be requested through a complicated process.

Labor’s rhetoric will always fail when it has to go up against the facts and the desire for real employee rights.

Categories: Center for Union FactsEmployee Rights ActPolitical Money