Unions take forced dues from over 250,000 public workers
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Unions take forced dues from more than 250,000 public workers

By   /   October 2, 2014  /   News  /   No Comments

By Jason Hart | Watchdog.org

Public-sector unions took forced dues from more than 250,000 public employees in 2013, siphoning away taxpayer money to support the unions’ shared goal of bigger government.

Some, but not all, of the labor unions that take mandatory “agency fees” from public employees must report the number of agency fee payers to the U.S. Department of Labor each year.

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees had 130,920 agency fee payers in 2013 while National Education Association had 88,378. Service Employees International Union reported 243,799 agency fee payers. Many of the employees represented by SEIU work in the private sector.

DOL defines agency fee payers as “those who make payments in lieu of dues to the reporting labor organization as a condition of employment under a union security provision in a collective bargaining agreement.” Public-sector unions can impose agency fees in 23 states.

Photo: MacIver Institute

MacIver Institute President Brett Healy

According to the Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, 7.2 million of the country’s 20.4 million public-sector workers were members of unions in 2013. Another 690,000 government employees were represented by unions but weren’t union members.

“Unions were first developed years ago to protect workers but too often, in today’s world, they exist solely for one thing and one thing only — raw, crass political power,” Brett Healy, president of the Wisconsin-based MacIver Institute, told Watchdog.org via email. “Big Labor bosses are more worried about supplying politicians with donations than the wellbeing of the rank-n-file or what is best for the rest of us — the taxpayers.

“Government workers understand this and that is why so many refuse to pay for the political spending of unions,” Healy said. “By becoming an agency fee payer, the money forcibly removed from a public employee’s paycheck cannot go toward political candidates or causes.”

Determining the total number of agency fee payers nationwide is difficult because certain public-sector unions — including those with less than $250,000 in revenue — are exempt from many DOL reporting requirements.

Additionally, American Federation of Teachers and other large unions representing government workers do not report a total number of agency fee payers because of the way workers’ money flows to each union’s headquarters through state and local chapters.

Excluding New York State United Teachers, an affiliate of both NEA and AFT with 23,622 agency fee payers, AFT locals took mandatory fees from at least 38,644 workers in at least 12 states.

“Why should one be forced to hand over their hard-earned money to a political organization they may not agree with? We live in the land of the free not the land of forced association,” Healy said.

“Luckily in Wisconsin, Act 10 has put rank-n-file government workers and the taxpayers back in charge. Government unions are not allowed to forcibly remove any dues or fees from a worker’s paycheck,” Healy added. “If an employee wants to be in a union, they can write the check themselves.”

“With so many government workers across the country opting to just be agency fee payers, it would not be a surprise if more and more states start to reform their collective bargaining laws, just as the Badger State did in 2011, to ban the un-American practice of forced automatic dues deduction.”

A state-by-state overview of government union agency fee payers follows, based on data from unions’ 2013 DOL reports.

For the reasons described above, the following is not an exhaustive list. And, while Michigan and Wisconsin still allow public safety unions to take agency fees, recent reforms in both states forbid AFSCME, NEA, SEIU, and others from negotiating mandatory fees in future contracts.

Alaska: Forced dues taken from at least 418 public-sector workers

  • AFT Alaska: 418 agency fee payers in 2013

California: Forced dues taken from at least 48,362 public-sector workers

  • AFSCME Local 3930 United Domestic Workers of America: 27,575 agency fee payers in 2013
  • AFT California: 11,690
  • AFSCME Council 57: 5,119
  • AFSCME Council 36: 3,978

Connecticut: Forced dues taken from at least 1,415 public-sector workers

  • AFT Connecticut: 877 agency fee payers in 2013
  • SEIU Local 2001, Connecticut State Employees: 538

Delaware: Forced dues taken from public-sector workers

NEA affiliate Delaware State Education Association takes agency fees, but did not submit an annual report to DOL in 2013.

District of Columbia: Forced dues taken from at least 3,620 public-sector workers

  • AFSCME Council 20: 3,620 agency fee payers in 2013

Hawaii: Forced dues taken from at least 1,122 public-sector workers

  • AFSCME Local 646: 1,122 agency fee payers in 2013

Illinois: Forced dues taken from at least 7,723 public-sector workers

  • AFT Illinois: 7,723 agency fee payers in 2013

Maine: Forced dues taken from at least 2,630 public-sector workers

  • SEIU Local 1989, Maine State Employees Association: 2,630 agency fee payers in 2013

Maryland: Forced dues taken from at least 13,454 public-sector workers

  • AFSCME Council 3, Maryland State & University Employees: 9,631 agency fee payers in 2013
  • SEIU Local 500: 3,823

Massachusetts: Forced dues taken from at least 431 public-sector workers

  • AFSCME Council 93: 431 agency fee payers in 2013

Michigan: Forced dues taken from at least 4,019 public-sector workers

With the exception of public-safety unions, public-sector unions in Michigan cannot include agency fee requirements in new contracts as a result of the state’s 2012 Right to Work law.

  • AFT Michigan: 3,328 agency fee payers in 2013
  • Michigan Education Association (NEA): 582
  • AFSCME Council 25: 109

Minnesota: Forced dues taken from at least 6,145 public-sector workers

  • Education Minnesota (NEA): 6,145 agency fee payers in 2013

Montana: Forced dues taken from at least 1,157 public-sector workers

  • AFT Montana: 1,157 agency fee payers in 2013

New Hampshire: Forced dues taken from at least 85 public-sector workers

  • AFT New Hampshire: 85 agency fee payers in 2013

New Jersey: Forced dues taken from at least 8,875 public-sector workers

  • AFT New Jersey: 3,936 agency fee payers in 2013
  • AFSCME Council 1: 2,700
  • AFSCME Council 71: 1,247
  • New Jersey Hospital Professional & Allied Employees (AFT): 992

New Mexico

Communications Workers of America Local 7076 and AFSCME Council 18 both take agency fees from State of New Mexico employees, based on the latest contracts posted by the New Mexico State Personnel Office. Neither union submitted an annual report to DOL in 2013.

New York: Forced dues taken from at least 75,243 public-sector workers

  • New York State United Teachers (AFT, NEA): 23,622 agency fee payers in 2013
  • AFSCME Local 1000: 22,371
  • AFSCME District Council 37: 21,679
  • Professional Staff Congress CUNY (AFT): 4,865
  • New York State Public Employees Federation (AFT): 2,706

Ohio: Forced dues taken from at least 7,265 public-sector workers

  • AFSCME Local 4: 3,255 agency fee payers in 2013
  • AFSCME Council 8: 2,460
  • Ohio Education Association (NEA): 1,550

Oregon: Forced dues taken from at least 2,541 public-sector workers

  • AFT Oregon: 2,411 agency fee payers in 2013
  • Oregon Federation of Nurses (AFT): 130

Pennsylvania: Forced dues taken from at least 20,173 public-sector workers

  • AFSCME Leadership Council 13: 14,015 agency fee payers in 2013
  • Pennsylvania State Education Association (NEA): 5,603
  • AFSCME Pennsylvania Hospital & Health Care Employees: 555

Rhode Island: Forced dues taken from at least 74 public-sector workers

  • AFT Rhode Island: 74 agency fee payers in 2013

Vermont: Forced dues taken from at least 475 public-sector workers

  • AFT Vermont: 475 agency fee payers in 2013

Washington: Forced dues taken from at least 7,861 public-sector workers

  • AFSCME Council 28: 6,756 agency fee payers in 2013
  • AFT Washington: 1,105

Wisconsin: Forced dues taken from at least 185 public-sector workers

With the exception of public safety unions, public-sector unions in Wisconsin cannot include agency fee requirements in new contracts as a result of the state’s 2011 Act 10 reforms.

  • Wisconsin Federation of Nurses & Health Professionals (AFT): 128 agency fee payers in 2013
  • AFSCME Council 40: 57

 

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Jason was formerly a reporter for Watchdog.org