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An Open Letter to the Arizona House: Support Legislation to Protect Worker Freedom!
April 9, 2012
By Brent Mead
On behalf of the National Taxpayers Union’s 8,300 members in Arizona, I urge you to support House Bill 2103, which would prevent unauthorized deductions from workers’ pay by government employee unions.
HB 2103, also known as “Paycheck Protection,” would prohibit the deduction of union dues unless state and local employees choose to opt in annually through written or electronic permission. This legislation would simply return decisions about how a worker’s wages are spent to the individual who earns them without being subject to confusing or unwanted deductions for lobbying and political activities.
A study by the Heritage Foundation found that nearly 70 percent of union dues are spent on union staff salaries and political activities, including campaigning. Most of these funds are expended without workers’ full awareness. Increasingly, public sector unions utilize the funds collected through dues to influence elections for state and federal offices. According to The Wall Street Journal, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees spent at least $87.6 million on the 2010 elections, making the union the largest single outside spender of the cycle.
Much of that spending spree was underwritten by monies taken straight out of the paychecks of ordinary workers, some of whom do not share the union’s particular brand of politics. Public sector unions are also among the most strident opponents of spending restraint, school choice, and even issues like pension reform – despite evidence that unfunded public pension liabilities nationwide could total as much as $3 trillion, and endanger their own members’ retirement security. Unions have the right to advocate for the policies and candidates of their choosing, but they should do so with voluntary contributions from their membership, not with dollars that are surreptitiously siphoned off before an employee ever sees them.
Finally, this bill supports individual rights. The American principle of freedom of association protects both the right of workers to join a union if they so choose, as well as the right to decline membership and financial support for a union. HB 2103 does not ban unions, or joining a union. Nor does it prohibit unions from engaging in political activity. It simply ceases the practice of the government acting as bill-collector-by-default for their benefit.
The time for meaningful political reform that protects taxpayers in Arizona is now. Our members hope you will take up the cause of Paycheck Protection by passing HB 2103.
Sincerely,Brent MeadState Government Affairs Manager