This Washington Examiner editorial explores union bosses’ power to force workers into paying for politics they do not support.
How would you react if your employer informed you he would be taking a modest cut from your paycheck each month for his political action committee? What if he told you that if you try to opt out of this arrangement he’d hassle you and might fight you all the way to the Supreme Court?
Did you know that labor unions already do this? And for the most part, they have been getting away with it. That’s why it’s heartening to see a new report, from the Washington Examiner’s Sean Higgins, that Republicans plan to take up federal labor law if they win the Senate in next month’s elections.
Legal precedent has for three decades supposedly guaranteed the First Amendment rights of nonunion workers — who are nonetheless required to pay dues — to avoid subsidizing Big Labor’s political drives. But Knox v. SEIU, which ended in a 2012 Supreme Court decision, demonstrates how this guarantee often fails in practice.
In 2005, SEIU abruptly raised its dues for the California public employees it represented for the explicit purpose of creating a $12 million campaign fund to defeat two state ballot measures. The union offered no opportunity for workers to opt out of contributing, unless they sought a refund the following year.