Tags: Unions | AFSCME | union | labor | forced | dues | nonmembers

Freedom's Just Another Word for Mandatory Dues, Union Says

By    |   Thursday, 30 April 2015 05:23 PM

Freedom means paying a union to keep your job?

What sounds like a riff on a George Orwell story is actually the heart of an argument by one of America's most powerful labor unions.

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) recently equated forced dues with freedom in defense of an AFSCME video portraying nonmembers as deadbeats.

"Imagine you and some friends go out to eat. Everyone eats, but when the bill comes, one guy won't pay his fair share because he didn't pick the restaurant," AFSCME explained in an April 20 Facebook post.

Challenged on the video's premise by Heritage Foundation labor policy analyst James Sherk, AFSCME said nonmembers are "free to find another job with lower pay and benefits. Freedom!"

Because public-sector workplaces are heavily unionized, working for the government without paying AFSCME often requires moving to a right-to-work state.

When Sherk noted unions could fight for members-only contracts instead of demanding forced fees, AFSCME told him to "stop attacking freedom." Sherk said public employees shouldn't be forced to pay unions, and AFSCME replied with the following:

Even when viewed separately from AFSCME's Orwellian insistence that forced union dues are "freedom," the union's video on mandatory union fees is misleading:

AFSCME's video suggests forced union fees are a myth, but unions often negotiate contracts with "fair share" or "agency" fee provisions making forced fees a condition of employment.

Mandatory union fees are legal in the 25 states without right-to-work laws, and more than 550,000 workers were forced to pay union agency fees in 2014. AFSCME alone took forced fees from 125,255 workers.

Although AFSCME's video claims every worker gets to vote on unionizing, millions of Americans pay unions each year without ever getting a vote on union representation.

The video insists unionization benefits all workers — but it's not uncommon for union contracts to benefit longtime employees at the expense of new hires.

AFSCME released its video to address the U.S. Supreme Court case Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association, a serious challenge to public-sector agency fees.

In 21 states, AFSCME and other public-sector unions can take mandatory fees from government workers' paychecks. A sweeping ruling for the plaintiffs in the Friedrichs case would cost AFSCME millions per year.

Unions routinely attack right-to-work laws — which do nothing except free workers from forced union dues — as "wrong" and dangerous, as explained in a recent Watchdog video:

Now, despite AFSCME's stated "solidarity" with all workers, momentum toward right-to-work and fear of the Supreme Court are prompting AFSCME to publicly smear nonmembers.

On Sunday and again Monday, AFSCME summarized its agency fee video by calling forced fee payers "that friend who just won't chip in when the dinner tab comes."

AFSCME did not respond to questions from Watchdog about the union's latest defense of mandatory union fees.

Jason Hart is Watchdog.org's Ohio-based National Labor Reporter. Contact him at jhart@watchdog.org and follow him on Twitter @jasonahart.

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Freedom means paying a union to keep your job? One of America's most powerful labor unions, AFSCME, recently equated forced dues with freedom in defense of one of their videos portraying nonmembers as deadbeats.
AFSCME, union, labor, forced, dues, nonmembers, right to work, mandatory
Thursday, 30 April 2015 05:23 PM
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