Your Questions, Our Answers
How do I prevent my dues from being spent on political campaigns?
Under the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Communications Workers of America v. Beck, union workers subject to a union-security agreement enjoy what are known as “Beck Rights.” You can go to your local union leadership and tell them you’d like to exercise these rights. When you do, the union will recategorize you as an “agency fee payer.” The union will still collect fees to spend on negotiating a contract with employers and collective bargaining, but it can no longer legally spend those fees on political campaigns.
When will the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform be launching a website to expose American employers that violate employees’ right to engage in protected concerted activity?
The National Labor Relations Board investigates and prosecutes illegal interference with employees’ right to unionize and engage in collective bargaining. Unfortunately, sometimes workers may lack effective advocates when the union itself violates their rights. Worse, the Obama Department of Labor officially announced it won’t audit a single national union office. That’s not right. And that’s one of the biggest reason we launched ProtectingOurWorkers.com.
Is this website an attempt to bust unions?
This website is not about union busting. The Committee supports American workers’ right to join a union and right to decide how to spend their own money. But that doesn’t mean a union’s leadership should be allowed to abuse the rights of individual union workers. Union workers have the right to know how their dues are being spent, and they have the right to decide if their dues are spent on partisan politics.
Are there any studies that show how much more union workers make due to being in a union including benefits and costs of union membership vs. not being in one?
A 2011 study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that rank-and-file union workers earn $938 a week on average while non-union workers earn $729 a week on average. But according to BLS, that difference cannot be definitively attributed to membership in a union because “earnings differences reflect a variety of influences, [like] occupation, industry, firm size or geographic region.” There is no nationwide consensus on whether membership in a union positively or negatively affects income. That said, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that unions are allowed to use your dues on what is called “representational expenses” – the amount the union spends on collective bargaining with management. Because union membership is often mandatory, the problem comes when unions spend your dues on non-representational expenses such as political activities, lobbying, and charitable contributions that you may not support. Our goal is to prevent the abuses that come from union leaders spending workers’ dues on political and other causes that are antithetical to their beliefs.
How can you go after unions’ political spending in support of workers’ rights and support corporate spending on political issues?
We believe that there are legitimate questions about the impact of political spending by powerful organizations, whether labor unions or corporations. We also believe all Americans have a right to spend their own money to express political opinions. Right now, however, union leaders are forcing American workers to give part of their hard-earned paycheck to partisan politics they do not support. Worse, the Obama Administration has worked to make it more difficult both for individual workers to know how union leaders spend their dues and for individual workers to exercise their constitutional right to choose not to donate to partisan politics.