This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Staggers Rail Act of 1980, which deregulated American freight…
CFIF on Twitter CFIF on YouTube
Happy 40th to the Staggers Rail Act, Which Deregulated and Saved the U.S. Rail Industry

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Staggers Rail Act of 1980, which deregulated American freight rail and saved it from looming oblivion.

At the time of passage, the U.S. economy muddled along amid ongoing malaise, and our rail industry teetered due to decades of overly bureaucratic sclerosis.  Many other domestic U.S. industries had disappeared, and our railroads faced the same fate.  But by passing the Staggers Rail Act, Congress restored a deregulatory approach that in the 1980s allowed other U.S. industries to thrive.  No longer would government determine what services railroads could offer, their rates or their routes, instead restoring greater authority to the railroads themselves based upon cost-efficiency.

Today, U.S. rail flourishes even amid the coronavirus pandemic…[more]

October 13, 2020 • 11:09 PM

Liberty Update

CFIFs latest news, commentary and alerts delivered to your inbox.
Jester's CourtroomLegal tales stranger than stranger than fiction: Ridiculous and sometimes funny lawsuits plaguing our courts.
Union Coffers Dwindle Following Supreme Court Decision Restoring Worker Freedom Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, August 23 2018
[U]nions' efforts to rationalize compulsory agency fees from non-members as work-related never passed the laugh test.

It's amazing what happens when people finally enjoy a greater degree of individual freedom. 

Also, we now know why union leaders and leftist politicians fought so tenaciously for decades to deny that individual freedom to captive employees. 

Specifically, it appears that when unions must actually receive permission before extracting dollars from the paychecks of non-member employees who oppose the unions' political activities, those workers immediately respond with a resounding, "Thanks, but no thanks." 

That's the harsh reality suddenly confronting public sector labor unions across America, in the wake of the historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) two months ago. 

In Janus, the Court finally ruled that public-sector labor unions can no longer force unwilling non-member employees to pay so-called "agency fees" from their paychecks to cover what the unions dubiously label collective bargaining activities.  In the case of Janus, that amounted to 80% of full union membership dues. 

In a 5-4 decision that shouldn't have been that close, the Court held that those compulsory dues violate the First Amendment: 

Forcing free and independent individuals to endorse ideas they find objectionable raises serious First Amendment concerns. That includes compelling a person to subsidize the speech of other private speakers. 

For decades, union leaders and their apologists rationalized compulsory agency fees from non-member employees by claiming that they merely covered work-related union activities. 

The open secret, of course, was that those fees were largely diverted toward unions' political operations. 

Consider AFSCME, the union at issue in the Janus case. 

In 2017, its membership totaled 1.3 million, and it spent $35 million on organizing and representation activities, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.  Its spending on political activities, however, totaled approximately $27 million. 

That's a lot more than 20%.  The plaintiff in Janus was obviously involuntarily subsidizing AFSCME's political operations. 

Or consider the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), which steers the proceeds it collects toward everything from the Clinton Foundation to Al Sharpton's National Action Network to global warming alarmists.  AFT claims 1.6 million members, and spent $75 million on collective bargaining in 2017, but its political spending totaled $40 million. 

And then there's the National Education Association (NEA).  With 3 million members, it spent $44 million on actual organizing and member representation in 2017.  But get this  it spent over $53 million on political activities. 

That's just a sample, but it illustrates the hyperpartisan nature of labor unions and their bosses. 

And whenever you hear unions claim that they're simply engaging in political activity in the same way that corporations do, it's worth pointing out an important difference.  Namely, corporations tend to split their political spending closer to 50/50 between Democrats and Republicans.  Unions, in contrast, spend over 90% of theirs on Democrats and leftist candidates and organizations. 

Accordingly, unions' efforts to rationalize compulsory agency fees from non-members as work-related never passed the laugh test. 

Unfortunately for them, that party is quickly ending in the wake of the Supreme Court's Janus ruling in June. 

In the 22 states where non-unionized public employees were previously required to pay agency fees, governments have stopped collecting.  In Pennsylvania, 24,000 state workers who paid $6.6 million in 2017 are no longer having agency fees docked from their paychecks, while 31,000 New York state employees are no longer on the hook for the nearly $10 million they paid last year. 

And that's just state employees.  Once municipal employees are included, public sector unions will lose $112 million in agency fees from 200,000 combined state and local workers they received in 2016 in New York alone. 

Nationwide, that means hundreds of millions of dollars that unions can no longer spend on leftist candidates and causes, now that they can no longer force unsympathetic non-members to subsidize them. 

For the individual workers themselves, they now enjoy hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year that are no longer involuntarily subtracted from their paychecks.  That's a significant loss for far-left politicians and activists, but a significant gain for the broader U.S. economy and individual workers. 

But unions aren't giving up. 

Across America, labor leaders are demanding that members continue to pay dues until their membership agreements expire, regardless of the Janus ruling.  Workers, in contrast, are suing in order to immediately resign and retain more of their hard-earned dollars. 

Unions will obviously scratch and claw to retain whatever amounts they can to keep subsidizing leftist political activities.  But as we're already witnessing, their ability to leverage unwilling non-members' earnings to do so have reached their end. 

Question of the Week   
Which one of the following was the first 20th century presidential candidate to call for a Presidential Debate?
More Questions
Quote of the Day   
 
"Wait until Scranton hears about this.One of Joe Biden's ways of contrasting himself with President Trump has been to declare the election a battle of Park Avenue values vs. Scranton, Pa., values.Now we learn that Biden has secretly been playing footsie with China.The statement Wednesday night asserting that the former vice president was a willing and eager participant in a family scheme to make millions…[more]
 
 
—Michael Goodwin, New York Post
— Michael Goodwin, New York Post
 
Liberty Poll   

Do you believe you will be better off over the next four years with Joe Biden as president or with Donald Trump as president?