The Covid-19 pandemic and the government-orchestrated shutdowns were a blow to many industries, but government unions—unsurprisingly—got special treatment. Despite 2,500 state employees being temporarily laid off and another 9,000 being handed furloughs, the states biggest unions continued to rake in dues like nothing was happening.
Neither Gov. Tom Wolf nor labor leaders responded to Freedom Foundation’s call for a temporary moratorium on public-sector employee union dues deductions. So, even though Pennsylvania public employees needed those dollars much more than union bosses during one of the worst economic downturns in memory, our state government decided not to prioritize workers.
Remember, Tom Wolf and the state’s labor leaders never had to worry about missing a paycheck. And it is taxpayer dollars filling their bank accounts.
Even though Pennsylvania public employees needed those dollars much more than union bosses during one of the worst economic downturns in memory, our state government decided not to prioritize workers.
But perhaps sitting at home in recent months changed some Keystone State public employees’ perception of the utility of paying dues.
When public employees began to hear about their right to choose whether or not to pay union dues from the Freedom Foundation beginning in March 2020, many began the process of saying goodbye to their union. In fact, thousands in its first year alone.
The union losses are having an impact. In total, the Freedom Foundation’s efforts have cost government unions $1.3 million in lost dues revenue.
Many of these workers are leaving because, as it stands, government union bosses don’t seem to care about serving their members nearly as much as they do about collecting money to exercise raw political power.
According to the Commonwealth Foundation’s recent findings in public union spending in Pennsylvania, government union dues accounted for $5.3 million in political spending in the 2016 Presidential cycle, and $4.1 million during the 2020 presidential cycle. Both in 2018 and 2019, union dues accounted for more than $6 million in political spending, and well over 90 to 95 percent of those contributions go toward Democrat candidates.
Unions could avoid the ongoing membership exodus if they focused on offering better services rather than acting as a political money funnel. But instead, they’ve sent the Freedom Foundation staff death threats, nasty emails and threatening voicemails–merely for telling their members the truth.
The Freedom Foundation is used to this behavior from government unions, which can’t seem to cope with having their absolute power over public employees challenged. Our outreach methods have helped more than 100,000 public-sector employees leave their unions across the country, keeping their own hard-earned money from funding political campaigns they may not agree with.
Government union bosses don’t seem to care about serving their members nearly as much as they do about collecting money to exercise raw political power.
Act 195, passed by the Pennsylvania State Legislature in 1970, established the right of public employees to organize and bargain collectively through selected representatives. In the years since, government have been handed—or seized—powers in our Commonwealth unmatched by any other political action committee (PAC) or special interest.
This was accomplished by funneling millions of dollars from taxpayer-funded paychecks into the war chests of (almost exclusively) leftist political candidates and causes whose big government, tax-and-spend agenda aligns perfectly with unions who see every public employee as a paycheck to be plundered.
The good news is, government employees can no longer be forced to pay dues and fund a political ideology with which they disagree. In 2018, the United States Supreme Court affirmed in Janus vs AFSCME that public employees cannot be forced to financially support a union as a condition of employment.
Unfortunately, it is not shocking when we hear from Pennsylvania public employees who’ve never heard that they had such rights. That’s why the Freedom Foundation opened shop in the Keystone State after the ruling was issued to make sure these employees knew their rights and know how to exercise them.
And we’re only getting started.
Hunter Tower is the Pennsylvania Director of the Freedom Foundation, a non-profit that assists public employees in leaving their unions. He is the previous executive director of the Republican Committee of Lancaster County and as a field director with the Republican Party of Pennsylvania. @HunterTower