An Opportunity To Abolish Compulsory Unionism

An Opportunity To Abolish Compulsory Unionism
By JBS President John F. McManus

As far back as 1786, Thomas Jefferson stated an elementary principle much in need of restating today. He said, “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical.” Are any Americans being forced to finance what they abhor? They certainly are.

Labor unions extract dues amounting to approximately $8 billion annually from 11 million workers who are forced by federal law into their grasp as a condition of employment. Huge unions then spend more than a billion dollars each election cycle to finance candidates for political office who will support their big government agenda. Many workers oppose both the politicians financed by the unions and the left-wing causes that fill Big Labor’s agenda.

This process gained acceptance in 1935 with the passage of the National Labor Relations Act (often referred to as the Wagner Act because its chief sponsor was New York Senator Robert Wagner). The law effectively made union membership a condition of employment wherever the union was certified as the employees’ exclusive bargaining agent. Although it was dubbed “the Magna Carta of Labor” by some, it was a gross denial of freedom. Labor unions should never have been awarded power to compel membership.

In 1947, Congress passed the Taft-Hartley Act intending to correct the process of forcing workers into unions. It succeeded only partially. But it did allow states to pass what is called a “right to work” statute that voids compulsory union membership within its jurisdiction. There are currently 22 states where compelling a person to join a union as a condition of employment isn’t permitted. In the remaining 28 states, workers, many of whom don’t support labor-backed politicians and measures, are nevertheless forced via existing federal legislation to finance what they oppose.

Currently a measure sits on the Senate legislative calendar that would amend the Wagner Act and do away with the power of labor unions to compel membership. Introduced by Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), S.204 has gained 26 Senate co-sponsors (all Republicans). Prominent Democrats Harry Reid (Nev.), Charles Schumer, (N.Y.), Diane Feinstein (Calif.), are among the strongest opponents of S.204 as its passage would result in a severe drop in labor union funding of their candidacies, those of their Democratic colleagues, and the left-wing causes they and the unions favor.

No one who opposes compulsory unionism opposes labor unions per se. If workers want to form a union, they should be able to do so. But forcing anyone to join, thereby compelling them to finance the wishes of union leaders can never be considered just. S. 204 should be enacted, sent to the House for its approval, and even backed sufficiently to overcome a certain veto from the current occupant of the White House.

For more about right to work, read The New American article “Right to Work Works!” 

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