Saturday, October 18, 2008

Forced Unionism: Taxation Without Representation

From the LA Times comes this opinion piece by the president of the California Teachers Empowerment Network:

In 28 states, a teacher is essentially forced to join a costly union. A typical teacher in Southern California, where I teach, pays $922 every year to his or her local, which then sends $611 of that amount to the state affiliate, the California Teachers Assn., or CTA, and $140 to the national affiliate, the National Education Assn., or NEA. (One has to wonder, if the unions are so beneficial, why do teachers need to be forced to join and to fork over such hefty dues in most states?) ...

All of us who object to what amounts to taxation without representation must speak up. Teachers who are happy with their union should have the right to continue that affiliation. However, the rest of us -- especially those who live in states where we are forced to join a union -- would be well served to take a hard look at the organization that claims to represent our best interests and start demanding change.

If I've said it once I've said it a hundred times:

Every (non-military) American has a right to join a union. Every American has a right not to join a union. Every American should have the right not to be required to support a union financially.

(And allow me to correct Mr. Sand's piece above. No one is required to be a member of a union, we're only required to pay a union for their supposed "representation". Those of us in that position are not union members, we are "agency fee payers".)


Brian Rude said...

I taught for two years at a state university in Minnesota. I did not join the union, but they got my money anyway. I don't remember the amount, but maybe it was about $500 a year. As I recall that was 90% or so of what it would cost me if I had joined. This irked me, and got me to thinking about such things.

There is the philosophical idea of "involuntary contract", and the philosophical conclusion that only government ought to have the authority to impose it. Unfortunately that philosophical idea is not familiar to the general public.

The union never bothered to come around and ask me to join them. They just had a card in my orientation packet. Obviously they considered that enough of an invitation. Anything more would hardly be worth it to gain them only another 10% in the money they would get from me.

The union claims it would represent nonmembers just as vigorously as it would represent members, if the need ever arose. That was worth something, but not much. There were other things more important.

I was a "fixed term employee" hired one year at a time, according to the needs of the university. I understand the need for that type of arrangement. Every business or industry has a need at times for temporary workers. However I learned that there was also a rule that no fixed term employee could be hired for more than four years. This seemed just the opposite of what it should be. Whenever possible, temporary employment ought to be a route to permanent employment. It often works that way in business or industry. Why should it be the opposite here? I don't know all the details, but conventional wisdom was that the professors wanted this rule. The professors, of course were defensive of their power and privileges.

This, and a lot of thinking about other things led me to an important conclusion. Unions protect their center at the expense of their periphery. As a low level fixed term employee I was on the periphery. I was expendable. I was to be exploited. The tenured professors were the center. They would take my money, whether I liked it or not, and use it to their ends, and I would be pushed out before I got to be uppity.

Unions have their rhetoric, even ideals of egalitarianism, of working for the little guy, but in the past have been accused at times of racial discrimination. The answer to this seeming incongruity is very simple. Unions have always protected the center at the expense of the periphery. They do not see that as a fault. They see it as a virtue.

This brings up the next conclusion, which is a very important one. Unions are the most special of special interests. They not only exploit their periphery for their benefit, they are glad to exploit everybody. Indeed a standard union tactic is to hold the public hostage in any way they can.

So why is it that unions are considered by people who consider themselves enlightened as the good guys?

Darren said...

A simple answer to your question is that too many people are sheeple, and staying with the flock is easier than thinking for yourself.

BTW, there is much wisdom in your observations.

Law and Order Teacher said...

Some very wise observations indeed. I am beginning steps to become an agency fee payer. That opt out will at least register my disagreement with the tyranny of non-RTW states. If the numbers grew the NEA and their fellow acolytes in labor would be forced to reconsider their oppressive tactics. Unfortunately, politicians are too gutless to take on the unions and lose their support. Republicans have been elected many times without union support, however, this doesn't seem to stiffen many spines. Anti-union, as they stand now, doesn't mean anti-labor.

Polski3 said...

ok, if my math calculations are correct, in California, of the $922.00 paid to the "union" per year, only a small percentage of it $171.00, goes to the "local" that does the negotiations for the teachers. $611.00 to CTA plus $140.00 to NEA adds up to &751.00. OK. SO why then are "agency fee payers" only being sent about a $350.00 rebate on their dues. I am under the impression that the vast bulk of negotiations expenses are bore by the local. So, why is the union keeping over $300.00 per agency fee payer? This does not add up in my book.

Agency fee payers, how much do you get back ?

Darren said...

I get back about $350. In theory, much of the NEA money comes back to the CTA/local in the form of Uniserve grants.

IIRC, I get back a higher percentage of NEA dues than I do state/local dues.

Law and Order Teacher said...

I wouldn't try to argue numbers with you or anyone else. I am at this point arguing philosophy. I have been a union member since 1976, all my working life. I was the president of my union for four years and I vehemently argued against endorsing political candidates. Unions, in my opinion existed for the purpose of ensuring better working conditions for their members. Unions now, are an arm of political parties and it is disgraceful. I and my wife have received at least 15 different mailings against McCain. Now, politics aside, that is overkill. I object to the use of my money to further political goals. Unions were formed to better working conditions for laborers. They have left that and become political organizations. That is not what I paid for. I'm out.