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Union dues debate


March 18, 2014 Letters to the Editor

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Regarding the letter “Corbett’s diversion” (March 10, by Donald C. Seigel).

It’s an election year and union leaders are doing everything in their power to discredit any effort to reform state government. Paycheck protection is a simple reform that would end public sector unions’ special privilege to collect political money using taxpayer funded automated payroll systems. Currently, mixing politics with public resources is a crime for everyone except for government union leaders. That needs to change.

While it’s true that union dues money cannot be given directly to politicians (only PAC campaign contributions can), dues money is used for political activity and lobbying. Remember those radio and TV ads condemning liquor privatization last year? They were paid for with $1 million of union members’ dues.

This political activity with dues money by Pennsylvania’s main government unions amounted to nearly $5 million in 2012.

The cost of automated payroll has never been the issue. It’s the principles of fairness and equality that are violated by allowing public sector unions to enjoy a benefit that no other political group shares.

Contrary to some claims, paycheck protection does not weaken employees’ free speech rights. In fact, it enhances them. Government union members support political lobbying that goes against their conscience without having much of a say in the matter. If union leaders have to look their members in the face and ask for their dues money, members will have a bigger say in how their own money is used for politics.

The tide is changing and union leaders know it — 58 percent of union households support paycheck protection. How about this proposal: Public unions collect their own political money just like everyone else. Let’s stand up for fairness and support paycheck protection.

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