The recent Supreme Court ruling in Janus vs AFSCME ended a practice of abuse of public sector employees by their unions. The decision prevents unions from forcing the payment of dues by non-members and is a major victory for our civil servants. Now it is time to stop similar corrupt tactics used by unions to force private sector non-union employees to pay dues.
Thanks to a hand-out by the Obama National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), unions can collect involuntary dues from former members who recently cancelled membership. In 2013, the NLRB overturned the 1962 Bethlehem Steel decision, which set the precedent that “dues checkoffs,” or union dues collected directly from an employee’s wages, expired when a union contract ended. One-sided negations never end fairly, and, under the 2013 ruling, unions receive an uninterrupted stream of cash and have no reason to come to the table if they deem a new deal to be insufficient. This is a gift to unions at the expense of the American worker.
This ploy is right out of the same playbook that pushed Mark Janus to fight the unions. By creating a so-called “window period,” unions can automatically collect dues from individuals who have ended their union involvement, in some cases for up to a year. Incredibly, this even applies for up to one year to employees in “right-to-work” states. If the unions offer value to members, why do they need to hide behind partisan legal barriers and employ deceitful maneuvers to continue to control workers?
The answer is that unions are run for their administration, not the workers, like, unfortunately, some aspects of public education. Unions spent $1.7 billion on political activities in 2016, most of which was in support of Democrats. Union bosses put on endless conferences, have outrageous salaries, and have even been known to spend money on lavish sporting events. This is in addition to making crony investments from their pension funds leaving them under-funded and leaving the members’ retirements at risk.
Forced unionism is a clear violation of the First Amendment rights of American workers. An individual who disagrees with a union on policy or politics should not be forced to support it financially contrary to their right to free speech. Furthermore, individuals should be free to spend their hard-earned money as they choose, free of coerced subsidization of union political activities.
I have introduced the Employee Freedom Act to end the greedy gimmicks unions have been using on hard-working Americans across the country. The bill would reinstate the Bethlehem Steel decision by ending dues checkoff provisions when a union contract expires. Further, the bill will respect the decisions of states which implement right-to-work laws by eliminating the window period.
Thanks to Janus, unions have no right to infringe on the free speech of public sector employees. It is time to extend this same principle to the private sector. This would be accomplished by reversing the politically-motivated decision of the Obama NLRB, and restoring the rights of hard-working Americans.
Francis Rooney is the U.S. Representative for Florida's 19th congressional district. He serves on the Committee on Education and the Workforce, and previously served as U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See under President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2008.