Thursday, March 24, 2011

Let's be honest: Union dues and PAC contributions are different

Employees should be able to decide whether they want to support an employer’s or union’s political agenda. On that, the business community is in agreement.

Union members’ rights should be protected by ensuring that union funds used for operational expenses are segregated from the funds used for political purposes, while seeing to it that union members can prevent their dues from being used for political purposes.  A worker shouldn’t have to help bankroll a union’s agenda that he or she finds objectionable.  A number of states have such paycheck protection laws, with Alabama having passed such a law in December.

But now a group that claims to support the paycheck protection concept is attempting to derail paycheck protection in the Legislature by throwing up nonsensical arguments against an amendment that would draw a distinction between deductions for union dues and deductions for political action committees.

When an employee chooses to participate in a political action committee’s agenda, the contributions are, by law, voluntary contributions. The same cannot be said for a union’s political agenda.  Because general union dues and those monies used for political purposes are not segregated, an employee's hard-earned money can end up being used by the union to support or oppose causes contrary to the employee's desires.

There’s no mystery when an employee makes a PAC contribution - they are required to be publicly disclosed in campaign finance reports; the employee expressly knows  it’s going towards a political agenda. That’s the very nature of a PAC in the first place. That is simply not the case with union dues. 

If we’re going to put a ballot measure with paycheck protection in front of voters, let’s at least be honest that PACs and union dues are two completely different animals.

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