Public union workers deserve protection over spending of dues

In 2012, the state’s main government unions, including the Pennsylvania State Education Association, spent nearly $5 million of member dues on political activities and lobbying.

That’s fine – except for the fact that the money was not given with any approval of members and the actual expenditures required no approval of members, who may not necessarily agree with beliefs espoused in the activities.

Only government unions have the legal privilege to use public resources to collect union campaign contributions and political money.

As you might guess, the unions are not thrilled by a proposal called “paycheck protection” that 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.

If a union wants to use political contributions to run a willfully inaccurate ad about the move to privatize the state’s liquor system, that is their right. But the union should have to raise the money for that ad the way all other special interests groups do, by getting like-minded people to freely decide to contribute.

This proposal does not keep anyone from writing a check out to the teachers association and donating as much as they wish to the organization.

But it leaves the decision to make political contributions up to the individual and creates more accountability for how the union organization spends the money. Obviously, individuals are going to hesitate before making contributions to an organization that doesn’t represent their beliefs.

If that is objectionable to certain government unions, they need to look in the mirror and perhaps re-examine how they are going about using union dues for political causes.