Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post from Forrest Fife, President of the Home Builders Association of Northeast Louisiana
Public sector unions are the only group authorized to have automatic payroll deduction that heavily engage in politics. The dues being collected may not directly fund political candidates or campaigns, but they support lobbying, grassroots advocacy, and many other inherently political activities. Millions of these dollars collected are sent to national union offices to support their national agendas, which include contributions to Planned Parenthood, global climate changes and gun reform.
Unions have resorted to typical labor union tactics – attempting to discredit the pro-business, pro-taxpayer Paycheck Protection legislation pending in the House – with no facts, justification, nor credible argument. In fact, the tactics were little more than thinly disguised hysteria as union beneficiaries of automatic payroll deduction face the possibility that they, like Louisiana Home Builders Association (LHBA,) the State GOP, the Family Forum, the Louisiana Democratic Party, and other organizations that engage in political activities will have to find a way to collect union dues without being subsidized by taxpayers.
Current law mandates that government bodies collect and remit union dues through automatic payroll deduction. HB 418 by Rep. Stuart Bishop would prohibit that practice, and eliminate the advantage that politically active public sector unions enjoy, as they now have an automatic flow of dues dollars to pursue a tax-raising, big-government agenda that many citizens, including many of their own members, do not agree with.
Several other groups and organizations are also permitted to utilize automatic payroll deduction. Some, like the United Way, are charitable organizations with strict IRS limitations on engaging in political activity. Others, such as health insurance companies, use this mechanism to pay employee health insurance premiums, a direct employee benefit. Health insurance companies may lobby, but they do not get their lobbying funding via automatic payroll deduction. Non-political groups will not be impacted by HB 418.
In no way does this legislation interfere with anyone’s right to join a union. Automatic payroll deduction is voluntary, but only on the part of employees. It’s not voluntary on the part of taxpayers, who are forced to support a union agenda whether or not they agree with it. The cost to taxpayers for the collection and remittance is not at issue. ANY cost borne by taxpayers to support any group’s political agenda is unacceptable.
If anyone needs evidence that their tax dollars are being directed toward union political activity, look no further than a nearby mailbox, where the unions have been distributing anti-Paycheck Protection flyers by the thousands. And, if you really want to see your tax dollars at work, watch the archived video of the House Labor Committee meeting from April 30, where you can see how your taxes support heavy-handed union politics as union members and lobbyists showed up in droves to oppose the bill. Fortunately, the committee voted pro-taxpayer, and reported the bill favorably by a vote of 9-6. The bill will now be considered by the full House tomorrow.
No one is trying to silence the voices of public sector employees. Groups such as LHBA do not have state-funded automatic payroll deduction, and most would agree that their voice is strong. LHBA, along with groups such as the Family Forum, the GOP and the state Democratic Party do not have contributions or dues collected through automatic payroll deduction of state workers, nor should they. They are all groups that heavily engage in politics, just as unions do.
Unions, why are you so worried? You claim that eliminating this special privilege, which puts unions on the same playing field as other political advocacy groups, would make it “inconvenient and difficult” to be a union member. Most expenses are paid by credit card, automatic bank draft or some other financial ease of pay plan, be it for car and house insurance, mortgages, or an eBay purchase paid for via PayPal. If unions provide value to their members, the members won’t hesitate to write a check or pay their dues in one of the myriad of ways that are available to them.
But, you might actually have to explain to them where their dues are going.