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We have two huge problems with Unions and their effect on the growth and cost of government: The “Check-off” and The Unionization of Government Employees.  The exponential growth and cost of our government can be directly linked to these two things.  So what should we do?

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Make the “Check-off” illegal and unions will lose both their power and the stranglehold they now have on politics.  Why?   The “Check-off” is a procedure whereby an employer is required to deduct union dues directly from an employee’s pay and then pay the money to the union.  Like income tax withholding (which in my view should also be terminated) the worker never sees the money and has virtually no control of how it is spent.

Imagine how differently most Union employees (and they do work FOR the Unions, not their employers in most cases*) would feel about the Unions if each month they had to write a check for $30 to $50 for the privilege of having a job.  I think Unions would lose a lot of members and with the loss of members, the loss of cash flow.

Now imagine how difficult it would be for unions to buy influence with their (now not-so-huge) contributions to (mostly Democrat) representatives.  In Oregon Congressional District #1, where I live, newspapers report that over a million dollars has already been spent by Unions on the Democrat running for Congress in a special election in January.  Think if that were only (?) $500,000.  The Republican might have a chance.

Even more important, we need to ban unionization of public employees.  Prior to the late 1950s, it was the commonly held belief that: 1. Governments were not abusive employers and therefor government employees did not need protection from them; 2. Collective bargaining for wages and benefits between government workers and their elected-offical bosses was inappropriate, if not unethical, because an elected official could ensure more votes from a very large block if he made the bargaining easy for the employees.  Most government leaders saw great problems with unionization of government employees.  FDR, who was the most progressive President we had seen to date, was strongly opposed to government employees unions.  This attitude remained until the late 50s.

“All of this was changed in 1958 when an aide to New York Mayor Robert F. Wagner, Jr. suggested that city workers could be a large enough voting bloc to ensure his reelection. Wager signed an executive order authorizing city workers, notably those of the transit system, to unionize and bargain collectively. As the percentage of Americans working for the government grew, other politicians began to see support for public employee unions as a way to get votes. State politicians around the country allowed public employees to unionize shortly after Wagner’s executive order. President John F. Kennedy (Executive Order 10925 – March 6, 1961) allowed federal government workers to unionize starting in 1962.” (from While America Aged in Philip Greenspun’s Weblog)

Today there are about 8 million government workers in unions while there are less than 7.5 million non-government workers in unions.  Over the past 20 years, Union contributions to political campaigns have gone almost 95% to Democrats and 5% to Republicans. (source)

Leading Union Political Campaign Contributors
1990-2010
Democrats
Republicans
American Fed. of State, County, & Municipal Employees
$40,281,900
$547,700
Intel Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
29,705,600
679,000
National Education Association
27,679,300
2,005,200
Service Employees International Union
26,368,470
98,700
Communication Workers of America
26,305,500
125,300
Service Employees International Union
26,252,000
1,086,200
Laborers Union
25,734,000
2,138,000
American Federation of Teachers
25,682,800
200,000
United Auto Workers
25,082,200
182,700
Teamsters Union
24,926,400
1,822,000
Carpenters and Joiners Union
24,094,100
2,658,000
Machinists & Aerospace Workers Union
23,875,600
226,300
United Food and Commercial Workers Union
23,182,000
334,200
AFL-CIO
17,124,300
713,500
Sheet Metal Workers Union
16,347,200
342,800
Plumbers & Pipefitters Union
14,790,000
818,500
Operating Engineers Union
13,840,000
2,309,500
Airline Pilots Association
12,806,600
2,398,300
International Association of Firefighters
12,421,700
2,685,400
United Transportation Workers
11,807,000
1,459,300
Ironworkers Union
11,638,900
936,000
American Postal Workers Union
11,633,100
544,300
Nat’l Active & Retired Fed. Employees Association
8,135,400
2,294,600
Seafarers International Union
6,726,800
1,281,300
Source: Center for Responsive Politics, Washington, D.C.          

That’s $486,440,870 to Democrats and $27,886,800 for Republicans.

Is it surprising that Unions gain more and more power as they elect more and more Democrats who give them great wages and benefits and who follow their lead in legislation?

*If an employer asks a Union employee to cross a picket line, he will obey his Union boss, not his ‘employer.’

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