1. Taxpayer resources should never be commingled with partisan politics

It’s already a crime for politicians and government employees to use public resources for political purposes. The same principle should apply to government entities that use public resources to aid unions in collecting their member’s dues by automatically deducting them from employee paychecks.

Government-employee unions are politically active organizations. A notable share of their resources is spent on lobbying, campaign contributions, TV and radio ads, and protests. Interestingly, their campaign contributions are almost exclusively doled out to Democrats — and in some cases — liberal Republicans who often promote government interests, not that of taxpayers.

2. Collection of political money by public officials creates a conflict of interest

State and local elected officials are charged with negotiating contracts with government-employee unions. The fact that unions lobby, donate, and campaign for the same public officials they negotiate with for their own contracts creates, at the very least, the appearance of a conflict of interest. Since contract negotiations are an operational necessity, collusion between government-employee unions and elected officials needs to end.

In a report compiled by the Heritage Foundation, it was determined that paycheck protection laws have “a clear negative effect on public sector union contributions to candidates for state legislative offices.” They also determined that reducing collusion also reduces government union campaign donations by about 50%.

Public officials are elected to represent taxpayers, not government-employees or their unions.

3. Local government unions wield too much political power

Local paycheck protection reforms can be passed, but when unions have the ability to strike and protest it ties the hands of the local officials they work for — in often-brutal manners. For example, the SEIU has utilized intimidation and scare tactics to bully business owners and officials to sway decisions in their favor.

Government and union contract negotiations exclusively benefit public unions at the expense of taxpayers. Houston’s Organization of Public Employees shows that they can force governments to give the unions complete contact lists of union and even non-union employees for no reason other than to pressure employees to join.

4. Paycheck Protection laws empower employees

Paycheck protection bills increase an employees’ ability to control exactly where their money is going, by allowing them decide whether or not to support their union’s political cause. Some employees enjoy the benefits that unions provide, but disagree with the political nature of the organization. They should have the conscious choice to fund the union’s political activity or not.

Government-employee unions—not taxpayers—should finance the collection of their own dues.

5. Government unions aren’t transparent

In the private sector, labor unions must file annual financial reports disclosing how their dues are spent. But public sector unions aren’t held to the same disclosure standard — even though taxpayer funds finance their activity. Unsurprisingly, government-employee unions oppose greater transparency requirements and other pro-taxpayer reforms.

This lack of transparency over the use of public funds creates an environment of unaccountability, waste, and graft cyclically perpetuated by its political ties to powerful seats in government.

Charles Blain

Charles Blain is the president of Urban Reform and Urban Reform Institute. A native of New Jersey, he is based in Houston and writes on municipal finance and other urban issues.


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