Magazine article USA TODAY


Magazine article USA TODAY


Article excerpt

Although the Supreme Court has established a number of precedents protecting the rights of workers, organized labor persists in using its political power to evade and defy those rulings to the fullest extent it can.

TWENTY YEARS AGO, I could shock an audience by saying that the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) tramples, rather than protects, the rights of America's working people. Such an opinion was pure heresy. Today, thanks to the efforts of the National Right to Work Committee, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, and many journalists and labor economists, this view no longer is considered shocking. One thing has not changed, though: The billions of dollars collected through government-authorized compulsory unionism still provide the fuel that drives the liberal political machine. Without the disproportionate political muscle of union officials, gained through government-granted coercive power, the battles against the flood tide of tax-and-spend, big-government schemes could be won hands down.

Right to work proponents are making some progress, both on Capitol Hill and in the court system, in cutting off the flow of forced-dues money with which union officials fund their attacks on workers' freedom. Support has greatly increased in Congress for the National Right to Work Act, which would repeal provisions in the NLRA and other Federal labor laws that empower union bosses to force workers to pay dues or so-called "agency fees" in order to get a job.

Just a few years ago, even getting committee hearings on these proposals, much less securing passage in either chamber of Congress, was nearly impossible. Now, however, almost one-third of House members are cosponsors, and dozens of other members have pledged to vote for the bill when it comes to the floor. Every year sees the addition of more and more cosponsors in the House and Senate. Congress is now heading, albeit grudgingly, where most citizens have been for a long time. According to polling data, nearly 80% of Americans understand that it is wrong to force someone to pay tribute to an unwanted union in order to get or keep a job. Yet, few understand the far-reaching consequences of government-authorized forced unionism. It is an abusive system that affects the lives of every one of us.

Congress made organized labor into a political juggernaut by giving it the power to get workers fired for refusal to pay union dues. That allows union officials to draw in billions of dollars every year, which they use to bend the political system to their will. Elected officials in nearly half of the 50 states have compounded that mistake by extending union bosses' forced-dues privileges to state and local public employment, including most public schools.

Department of Labor reports reveal that private-sector union income alone is nearly $14,000,000,000 per year. That figure does not include income for such unions as the National Education Association, by far the nation's largest labor union, with annual dues income of well over $1,000,000,000. More than 80% of all private-sector union contracts authorize union officials to force each worker to pay dues as a condition of employment. A great deal of attention has been devoted to the decline in private-sector union membership, much of which has occurred during a period in which public-sector union membership figures have been mushrooming. What people don't hear is that, while private-sector union membership numbers are going down, total union income has been going up at a rate far exceeding inflation.

Private-sector union staff salaries exceed $2,400,000,000 per year. This payroll produces a highly politicized nationwide staff network made up of tens of thousands of full and part-time union officers and employees--a veritable political army whose attention turns primarily to politics for weeks, or even months, before each election. Union officials admit to devoting all or most of their staff resources during election season to partisan get-out-the-vote drives, boiler-room phone banks, and other political activities. …

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