Thomas Jefferson once wrote that “to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical.”
Well this very practice is alive and well today. Labor unions throughout the country have a standard practice of taking money from their members and, without their permission, utilizing it to promote their own political agenda.
Under current law in most states, labor unions may use the dues collected from their members for collective bargaining purposes and political campaigns. These unions are not required to obtain the permission of their members to do this, nor are they required to consider the political leanings of their members when doing so. Subsequently, union members are often forced to financially support political policies with which they disagree.
Workers money is being spent on all kinds of issues that they may or may not support. For example: in 1996, Teamsters gave $195,000 to legalize marijuana in California. According to the Associated Press, the Teamsters’ funds went to the marijuana legalization campaign as part of a contribution-swap scheme. In that scheme, Teamsters’ funds went to support the drug legalization campaign, and, in exchange, wealthy donors who support drug legalization gave money to Teamsters President Ron Carey’s re-election campaign.
In another instance, during the 2000 election, the California Teachers Association (CTA), along with the California Federation of Teachers spent significant resources and contributed thousands of dollars to fight against Proposition 22; a measure which defined marriage in California as between a man and a woman. This was despite the fact that a majority of their members supported the traditional definition of marriage.
How can the rights
of these workers be protected? The answer is “Paycheck
Paycheck protection codifies a simple philosophy: If you want someone else to give you money for your political campaign, you’re going to have to get his or her permission first.
The first, paycheck protection legislation was introduced in 26 states back in 1998. It was also placed before voters in statewide initiatives in California and Oregon. While both initiatives narrowly failed under an avalanche distortion, they sparked a national discussion concerning just what constitutes the appropriate use of the dues and fees paid by American workers.
Five states: Idaho, Michigan, Ohio, Washington and Wyoming now have laws providing Paycheck Protection on the books. In some states the use of paycheck-deducted union dues is banned. In other states unions are required to obtain their members permission before deducting money from their paychecks for politics. Californians may soon have a chance to vote on a similar measure in the 2005 Fall Special Election. The time is ripe for such a movement.
Paycheck protection advocates point to an ABC News/Washington Post poll which discovered that 82 percent of Americans believe unions should get a worker’s permission before using a portion of his or her dues on politics. They also highlight a CNN/USA Today Gallup poll found that 72 percent of Americans believe unions should first get a member’s written permission before using the member’s dues for politics.
Once given the facts, voters agree that this is a matter of protecting the constitutional rights of union workers. Simply put, Paycheck Protection defends the first amendment rights of workers to give their hard earned money to the candidates and causes of THIER choosing. CRO