NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 17, 2008

A secret behind the revival of Big Labor's political power is its claim on union dues for election purposes.  That being said, it is worth watching the fate next month of Colorado's Amendment 49, a ballot initiative that would prohibit state and local governments from withholding money for lobbying or electioneering from a government worker's paycheck, says the Wall Street Journal.

Amendment 49 stems from disagreements between former Colorado Governor Bill Owens (R) and current Governor Bill Ritter (D).  During his term, Owens issued an executive order to achieve the aforementioned objective for all state government workers, but union collection fell by more than half.  The edict was rescinded by Ritter, who is a union ally. 

Currently, Colorado unions are spending furiously to defeat Amendment 49, but what is remarkable about the amendment is that it has the endorsement of most major newspapers in the state, including the center-left Denver Post, says the Journal:

  • Perhaps that's because even many liberals understand that workers shouldn't be coerced into subsidizing political causes they don't agree with.
  • In particular, income should not be intercepted by a third party -- in this case withheld by the government -- before it gets to the worker's bank account.
  • Unions talk about raising take-home pay, except when they are dunning that pay to finance their own agenda.

Overall, Amendment 49 faces a difficult fight, in part because business interests agreed to spend $3 million to help defeat it in return for unions withdrawing four destructive ballot measures.  Opponents are outspending supporters by 10-to-1.  But it's a tribute to the basic justice of the initiative that it still has a chance to pass.  And Colorado workers should hope it does, says the Journal.

Source: Editorial, "Unions v. Workers," Wall Street Journal, October 15, 2008.

For text:


Browse more articles on Economic Issues