The U.S. Supreme Court ruling last week on union dues clarified a piece of the law, but it did not settle the issue of how to treat people who are represented by a union but who have resigned their membership.
It may seem odd there are such people, but under federal law, a worker has the right to resign from membership in a union but not from representation by it. In many states, including this one, a worker who resigns from a union may be required to pay it for representing him, but he may refuse to pay a share of its "non-chargeable" spending, such as donating to political causes. Last week's case, successfully argued by Attorney General Rob McKenna on behalf of the non-members and the state law protecting them, concerned the Washington Education Association.
OK, so far that seems fair and balanced. But let's read on:
When the WEA could see it was going to lose, it had its friends in the Legislature pass House Bill 2079, sponsored by Rep. Joe McDermott, D-Seattle. This bill, which Gov. Chris Gregoire obligingly signed into law, says money from members and nonmembers may be put in the same account and spent on politics as long as there is enough left in the account to cover what the nonmembers paid.
We understand why it was done that way: The Democrats get most union contributions, and they want large ones. But co-mingling amounts to a kind of money laundering, and the Legislature and governor never should have approved it. (emphasis mine--Darren)
Money laundering--that's a pretty strong term. Is the Seattle Times perhaps suggesting that this type of activity is, or at least should be, criminal? If so, I agree with them.