Appendix: Answers to Common Criticism of Paycheck Protection

Labor unions and some business groups have criticized paycheck protection for different reasons. This appendix lists some of the most common criticisms and offers a response to each.

1. "Paycheck protection is a business-motivated effort to silence workers by depriving them of their voice in the political process."

Paycheck protection merely respects each employee’s individual right to decide if he wants money deducted from his paycheck for non-workplace union activities. Paycheck protection does not inhibit a union’s ability to solicit contributions and donations voluntarily by convincing workers that the union’s political activities are in their best interests. Union politics are not necessarily compatible with those of individual employees, who should have ultimate control over their own money.

2. "Paycheck protection is unfair if it is not applied to corporations or other membership organizations that spend money in politics."

Labor unions are granted by federal law, and sometimes state law, a unique "taxing" power not available to any other organization, which enables them to end the livelihood of any worker who refuses to or cannot pay union dues and fees. Corporations can neither force individuals to invest in them nor prevent them from selling their stock when those individuals disagree with corporate political spending. The coercive power of a union exercising a discharge action makes this concern an "apples and oranges" comparison.

3. "Paycheck protection will interfere with the employee’s other payroll deductions, such as those for health care, 401(k) plans, or United Way charitable contributions."

Paycheck protection applies only to union dues paid through payroll deduction, any part of which will be used by the union for political campaigns or for social causes that an employee may deem objectionable. As such, it will have no bearing upon other matters such as voluntary charitable contributions or any other category of payroll deduction unrelated to mandatory union dues.

4. "Paycheck protection doesn’t go far enough in relieving an employee from the coercive aspects of compulsory unionism."

While paycheck protection does not address all facets of the special powers, privileges, and immunities granted to labor unions under the law, it does make a positive impact in enabling workers to control the expenditures of some of their dues. Any move toward greater employee freedom and increased union accountability represents a more balanced approach under the labor laws and, as a matter of public policy, is worthy of widespread support. Paycheck protection must be coupled with rigorous enforcement of Beck rights.

5. "The procedures of written annual consent from each employee make it virtually impossible for labor unions to collect dues sufficient enough to allow them meaningful participation in political affairs."

There is no doubt that annual written consent will dramatically change the ways unions currently relate to their dues payers. But from a worker’s perspective, this change is totally positive. Unions will have to use the power of persuasion in direct dealings with employees to convince them that their money is worthy of contribution to the union. While unions may find this more cumbersome, the recent successful attempt by the Michigan Education Association to get its members signed up as PAC contributors demonstrates that written permission and face-to-face solicitation is a workable system.

A corollary to this criticism of paycheck protection is this: Any union that finds itself unable to persuade members to voluntarily provide funds for meaningful political participation should ask itself whether it is truly acting in the best interests of workers.

6. "Paycheck protection laws won’t work because the unions who disagree with them will find ways to circumvent them."

Undoubtedly, some unions will attempt to circumvent the intent of paycheck protection by raising money from union employees by other means. Unfortunately, laws alone cannot insulate employees against every potential union effort to maximize dues collection. Laws alone are not guarantors of liberty: Individuals must be allowed to take personal responsibility for their freedom.

The paycheck protection measure proposed in this report would allow workers the freedom to preserve their civil rights without sacrificing their economic interests or infringing upon the speech or association rights of other union members. It would guarantee a worker’s right to withhold his dues at their source, before they are transmitted to the union. Prudent regulation of the collection process will do far more to prevent union misuse than will simply attempting to regulate how unions may spend the dues after they have been collected.