Opinion

11 Million Workers Are Forced To Pay Union Dues: Congress Should Help Them

(AP Photo/J. David Ake, File)

Mark Mix President, National Right to Work
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11 Million. That’s the number of American workers forced every day to make a choice: Pay union dues or be fired. 

As unbelievable as that sounds, it’s true. In America, despite the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of association, a worker can be forced to financially support a union against his or her will.

That’s just plain wrong. And the American people overwhelmingly agree. Nearly 80 percent of Americans oppose forcing workers to pay union dues as a condition of employment.

Fortunately, there is a solution.

The National Right to Work Act (S. 391/H.R. 612) was introduced in both chambers of Congress earlier this year. This easy to read, one-page bill does not add one single word to federal law, it simply repeals a few lines from past labor law. Every worker would still be able to join a union if he or she chooses, but the National Right to Work Act would forbid union bosses from requiring union dues or fees as a condition of employment.

Beyond preserving worker freedom, and breaking up Big Labor’s chokehold over workers, Right to Work is good public policy for several other reasons.

First, it’s good economics. Currently, 25 states have Right to Work laws on the books, with Wisconsin outlawing forced unionism just a few months ago in March. On multiple economic indicators, Right to Work states outperform forced unionism states.

From 2003 to 2013, Right to Work states saw higher private sector job growth and attracted more residents than forced unionism states.  In addition, once you adjust for the cost of living, workers in Right to Work states have nearly $2,000 more in annual discretionary income.

Second, Right to Work gives rank-and-file workers a meaningful way to hold union officials accountable: If a union can compel workers to financially support it, what incentive is there to offer real and meaningful representation? Why would a union boss take a worker’s interests seriously?

Under Right to Work, union bosses must demonstrate to their members why it’s beneficial for them to fork over part of their paycheck.  Succeed and they will have no problem finding willing employees to voluntarily pay dues. Meanwhile, ineffective, wasteful and unaccountable unions will rightfully see their revenue stream dry up.

This forced-dues funded racket only serves to expand Big Labor’s empire. Workers and businesses are harmed and union bosses profit off the backs of hardworking Americans.

If Congress is serious about protecting America’s workers from forced unionism and reviving the stalled economy, there’s an easy answer: Pass the National Right to Work Act.