Unions Fight for Taxpayer-paid Dues Collection

Member Group : Commonwealth Foundation

For Immediate Release
Commonwealth Foundation
Contact: Cindy Hamill
(856) 607-4208

Gov. Unions Rally to Defend the Indefensible While Supporters of Paycheck Protection Defend Workers’ Rights

January 28, 2014, HARRISBURG, Pa—Government union bosses are rallying members to the Capitol today to preserve the exclusive legal privilege of using taxpayer resources for politics. But they are not alone. Supporters of workers and taxpayers are also there, defending their rights and proclaiming the truth—which will be front and center on a mobile billboard at the Capitol steps.

"Pennsylvania’s government union bosses are using scare tactics and false pretenses to defend the indefensible," said Matthew Brouillette, president and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation. "Union bosses claim that ‘paycheck protection’ will silence workers’ voices and destroy their unions, but in reality they are merely fighting to hold onto an exclusive and unfair legal privilege that keeps them unaccountable to workers at taxpayer expense."
No other private or political group enjoys this financial or political benefit.

Indeed, several politicians have been sent to jail for using taxpayer resources for politics. But government union bosses rely on taxpayer resources to collect dues, fees and campaign contributions from workers. The Commonwealth Foundation is displaying these truths on a billboard (ad image) at the base of the Capitol steps in an effort to educate workers and taxpayers of this unfair practice.
Legislation now in the General Assembly would simply require government union bosses to collect their dues, fees and political money directly from members.
"This commonsense policy would free teachers and other government employees from the unfair practice of having their dues automatically deducted from their paychecks and used for political purposes they don’t agree with," said Brouillette.

Teachers like Donna Gordon believe they, not union bosses, should control their money.

"It’s not just the power for teachers, but I think it’s the power for everyone to be able to control what’s taken out of their pay and what’s not and to control where that money goes."

— Donna Gordon, Chester County Special Education Teacher

Paycheck protection empowers teachers like Donna to hold union leaders more accountable. "Instead of being able to use taxpayer resources to collect their money, unions will have to collect it directly from teachers like Donna," Brouillette said. "Shouldn’t the union have to go directly to teachers for their money rather than just automatically deducting it from their paychecks?"

Contrary to what government union bosses are telling workers:

• Paycheck protection is NOT a "Right to Work" bill.
• Paycheck protection does NOT prevent workers from joining a union.
• Paycheck protection does NOT prevent a union from being politically active.
• Paycheck protection will NOT affect private sector unions.
• Paycheck protection will NOT affect public safety employees.
• Paycheck protection will NOT end collective bargaining.
• Paycheck protection WILL hold union leaders more accountable to workers.
• Paycheck protection WILL get taxpayers out of funding union politics.

"Teachers can still write a check out to the association, they can donate as much money as they wish to their political action committee. All they have to do is sit down and write a check."

— Robin Fought, Chester County Science Teacher

"Paycheck protection is about fairness and accountability," said Brouillette. "It is about giving equal opportunity for all and favor for none. Today, only government unions enjoy the exclusive legal privilege of having the taxpayers pay for the collection of union dues and campaign contributions.

This is about empowering teachers and other government employees to hold their unions accountable. When unions have to collect their dues and campaign contributions directly from members, public employees gain greater control over how their money is spent."

Taxpayer-Collected Dues Fund Union Politics

In 2012, the state’s main government unions, the largest of which is the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), spent of member dues on political activities and lobbying. These expenditures do not require the approval of members and often advocate for policies counter to teachers’ own beliefs.

• The June/July 2013 edition of the PSEA Voice featured this four-page, politically-charged ad.

• Pennsylvanians for Accountability, a non-profit financed by the Service Employees International Union, released this political television ad ripping the governor.

• During the Philadelphia schools funding crisis, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers released this video ad criticizing Mayor Nutter.

• Last spring the UFCW used union dues to pay for this ad making false claims about liquor privatization.

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For more information, please contact Cindy Hamill, director of strategic communications for the Commonwealth Foundation at (856) 607-4208 or [email protected].
The Commonwealth Foundation, founded in 1988, crafts free-market policies, convinces Pennsylvanians of their benefits, and counters attacks on liberty.