Time to Eliminate Forced Collection of Public Union Dues

Governor Walker’s resounding victory over what can only be described as political ugliness on parade taught us that unions are not all powerful and can be corralled into reasonable confines. Wisconsin’s Act 10 of 2011 that precipitated calls for removing the Governor went a long way toward stripping public unions of their inordinate control over state and local governments and school districts. It eliminates the right to strike, requires an affirmative vote to retain the union representative, limits contract negotiations to wages-work rules and benefits are off the table-and forbids any government agency from deducting union dues. The last reform was altered later to allow deduction if the union member gave the government employer express permission to withhold dues.

Surely, quite a laundry list of reforms. Each has a profound effect on union powers. As a package they have caused vast numbers of public employees to quit paying dues and, as a result, be dropped from union rolls. After all, with so little ability remaining to extract wealth from taxpayers, the benefit of being in a union has been greatly diminished.

Now would be a really good time for Pennsylvania lawmakers to take a page out of the Walker playbook. The place to start, given the long running inability or unwillingness to eliminate the right to strike, would be the forced collection of dues. There may never be a better opportunity to disallow any government or government entity in Pennsylvania to deduct union dues without the express written permission of the employee.

This should be a relatively easy law to write and get to the floor. Pennsylvania taxpayers deserve what Wisconsin taxpayers have, a fighting chance at the negotiating table.