Backgrounder

2006 March – Backgrounder #48 – A Paycheck Pro⁠t⁠ec⁠t⁠⁠i⁠on Pr⁠i⁠mer for Flor⁠i⁠da

By: The James Madison Institute / March 1, 2006

The James Madison Institute

Backgrounder

March 1, 2006

Executive Summary

Paycheck Protection laws require labor unions to ask their members annually for written permission to use their dues money for non-bargaining purposes such as political activities. Such laws embody the spirit of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Beck v. Communications Workers of America, which held that workers who are compelled to pay union dues spent on “non-bargaining activities.” Such laws also reflect Thomas Jefferson’s eloquent defense of liberty: “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”

Research suggests that labor unions spend as much as 80 percent of their members’ dues on activities unrelated to collective bargaining. A new federal report is illustrative. It shows that the National Education Association (NEA) last year spent $187 million of its members’ dues for purposes unrelated either to bargaining or union administration. Much of the money went to causes that many teachers would not freely choose to support.

Paycheck Protection gives union members a choice. They may fund the causes favored by their union leaders, or they may refrain from doing so while still retaining their membership. What occurred in Washington, the first state to enact Paycheck Protection, is revealing: Once contributions were voluntary and union members were informed about where their dues money went, the number of teachers who contributed to the Washington Education Association’s Political Action Committee dropped to 6.1 percent in 2004 from 81.7 percent a decade earlier.

Simliar results have been noted elsewhere in recent years as teachers in Ohio, Utah, Michigan, and Idaho joined those in Washington with Paycheck Protection’s safeguards.

Bringing Paycheck Protection’s safeguards to Florida would require a statute enacted by the Legislature and approved by the Governor.