Most citizens recognize the benefits of unionization, such as higher nominal wages and improved working conditions, but few understand all of the costs associated with labor unions. Families may fail to understand how teacher unions have opposed, often successfully, the education reforms that parents want for their children. Unionized workers often do not know how they can reduce the high cost of their union fees. Owners and managers of businesses often mistakenly believe that they are required to force employees to join and financially support workplace unions. Many taxpayers are unaware of how labor unions routinely oppose privatization as a tool to provide improved government services at lower costs. And voters in general underestimate the role labor unions play in selecting political candidates, funding political campaigns, and otherwise participating in the democratic process.
This lack of knowledge may be due in part to general apathy and inattention, but labor unions do have a vested interest in keeping the public uninformed. For example, school employee unions often prefer public school contract negotiations to be conducted behind closed doors so that they can negotiate concessions that parents and taxpayers might not wish their school district to make.
Unions also fight efforts to inform members of their right to resign and not pay dues for non-workplace-related union expenditures, because such information might drain union treasuries. All too often, union members who inquire about their constitutional or statutory rights are given misinformation or met with downright dishonesty. Coercion, threats, and physical violence are tactics all too often employed in labor disputes which jeopardize workers' safety and force them to make untenable choices in either supporting a questionable strike or crossing a picket line to return to work.