NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Union Members Avoid Political Dues

December 1, 1997

Given a choice, members of labor unions in Washington state are withholding dues earmarked for political activities by an overwhelming margin. A 1992 state ballot initiative -- approved by 70 percent of voters -- made it illegal in Washington state to collect or use union dues for political purposes without a union member's approval.

  • The number of state public employee union members willing to make political contributions to their union dropped from more than 40,000 to just 82.
  • The number of public school teachers who gave to their state union's political fund plummeted from 45,000 to 8,000.

A nationwide campaign led by Americans for Tax Reform seeks to duplicate the success of the Washington initiative in a host of other states prior to the 1998 elections. Referendum drives are already under way in California, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Ohio, Florida, Missouri, Michigan, Colorado and several other states.

Political analysts say the reform movement would cut off organized labor's principal source of campaign cash. They describe it as the most aggressive assault on union power in the history of the labor movement.

In California, enough signatures have already been collected to assure that the initiative will be on the state's June primary ballot.

The initiative campaign, scheduled to be launched on January 21, would involve state legislators in all 50 states. House and Senate GOP leaders will also be pushing legislation next year to insert a similar ban on political use of union dues without the consent of donors into the campaign finance reform bill.

Source: Donald Lambro, "Union-Dues Battle Fought State By State," Washington Times, December 1, 1997.


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