NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Unions Work Against Workers

February 10, 1997

Some Constitutional scholars say President Clinton is violating his obligation to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed," by not upholding the Supreme Court's 1988 decision in the Beck case. What that decision said, in essence, is that workers cannot be forced to pay dues or fees to subsidize union activity not related to collective bargaining.

  • In 1992, the Labor Department under the Bush administration issued regulations requiring unions to publicly reveal what portion of their dues workers could keep.
  • President Bush also ordered federal contractors to tell workers the same thing.
  • But President Clinton, only days after taking office, rescinded both actions -- leaving workers once again in the dark as to what was happening to their dues money.
  • Average dues paid by the ten million private-sector union members has climbed to $400 per year.

Observers say that the 40 percent of union workers who regularly vote Republican probably oppose the millions of dollars being spent by their unions to boost Democratic candidates and causes -- and probably would like to have their money back. After Washington state voters reformed the union dues process in 1992, the number of union teachers who contributed to their organization's political action committee plunged from 48,000 to only 8,000.

Unions' open defiance of the Beck decision prompted the National Labor Relations Board to rule last month that unions must supply financial data to workers who request a partial refund of their dues.

Reformers want any new campaign finance bill to contain language codifying into law the Beck decision.

Source: Editorial, "Exempt from Reform," Wall Street Journal, February 10, 1997.


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