Big Labor’s Coercion: No Worker Off-Limits
Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation
Monday, September 6, 2010 4:59 am
American Federation of Labor founder Samuel Gomper’s famous adage that “No lasting gain has ever come from compulsion” is as relevant as ever this Labor Day.
Today’s union bosses consider compulsion the key element of their agenda. As Obama recess appointee and former top union lawyer Craig Becker once wrote, unions’ “actions necessarily involve coercion.”
It’s easy to see this coercion in practice, and no American worker is out-of-bounds for the union chiefs desperate to line their coffers with forced dues.
Take Major Stephen Godin, a retired Marine who has instructed ROTC in Worcester, MA, for 15 years. Major Godin’s dedicated service to his country and his students deserves our respect and gratitude.
But three months ago, Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA) union officials threatened his dismissal for not paying union dues, even though he is not a member of the union. Because Massachusetts lacks a Right to Work law making union association strictly voluntary, nonmembers can be forced to pay some fees to a union as a condition of employment.
Public outcry prompted the governor to exempt ROTC instructors from forced-dues requirements, but other teachers across the state still labor under compulsory unionism.
Of course, the problem isn’t just with teachers, and the evils of forced unionism are not isolated to Massachusetts. Faced with declining membership in the private sector, union bosses are increasingly looking to the government sector throughout the country to pad their pockets.
In fact, for the first time ever, a majority of government employees nationwide work under monopoly unionism, and the union bosses are trying to increase these ranks through any means necessary.
“Growth at any cost” was Andy Stern’s mantra while running the radical Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and he turned to Becker to help orchestrate a scheme to force in-home health care providers into dues-paying ranks.
From California to Michigan to Kansas to Illinois, union operatives lobbied the state governments to reclassify these care providers as state employees for purposes of extracting union dues, even though many of them are grandparents or babysitters providing care to a sick or disabled child who receives a state subsidy.
Some of the tactics to ensnare these compassionate citizens into dues-paying ranks are simply unconscionable. In Michigan, Governor Jennifer Granholm repaid her Big Labor bankrollers by granting union bosses monopoly control over 40,000 child-care providers even though only 15 percent of them “voted” in an unusual and confusing mail-in union certification election.
Big Labor isn’t just looking to state governments to force more government workers under their thumbs.
This summer, International Association of Fire Fighters union chief Harold Schaitberger and other union bigwigs plotted with Nancy Pelosi and other Congressional leaders to attach a union boss power grab to unrelated war funding legislation.
Fortunately, concerned citizens stopped that cynical ploy, and for now that dangerous bill – which would override the duly-enacted laws of states across the country and impose monopoly unionism on first responders – remains stalled in the Senate.
While union operatives scheme to corral police officers, firefighters, and other government employees into dues-paying ranks, hardworking Americans who already are forced to labor under union boss control have their own set of problems.
Just ask the nurses at Minneapolis-area hospitals who were recently told by their local union bosses to abandon their patients during a strike. Some brave nurses refused and then received threatening letters from the union hierarchy after returning to work.
The union now admits that some nurses received the letters – which illegally threatened independent nurses with internal union disciplinary kangaroo courts – due to a “clerical error.”
Nurses. Teachers. Firefighters. Day-care providers.
It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you do. Big Labor’s high command wants a cut.
On Labor Day, we celebrate the hard work and ingenuity of the American people. Let us also fight against the coercion they face because of forced unionism.