In our latest Liberty Update, we highlight an eye-opening new study confirming how drug price controls…
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AEI's Michael Rosen: "Omicron Variant Sows Chaos but Doesn’t Move Needle on Patent Waiver Debate"

In our latest Liberty Update, we highlight an eye-opening new study confirming how drug price controls kill pharmaceutical investment and innovation at the worst possible time, when America and the entire world depend upon them more than ever.

In similar vein, American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Adjunct Fellow and healthcare expert Michael Rosen nicely illustrates how the omicron variant of Covid has paused the destructive global effort to suspend enforcement of patent rights belonging to lifesaving vaccine developers:

But the new omicron variant of the virus has intervened, shelving the planned WTO meeting and throwing into continued contrast the supposed haves and have-nots of vaccine protection...  But the EU has held firm in resisting the vaccine waiver, and rightly so."

Unfortunately…[more]

December 06, 2021 • 12:20 PM

Liberty Update

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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. 

Quiz Question   
How many gun purchase background checks were processed by the FBI during Thanksgiving Week 2021?
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Notable Quote   
 
"Crime is raging across the country, from violent attacks to brazen shoplifting to mob 'smash and grab' attacks. The White House this week had a simple answer for the cause of this rising lawlessness: It was not 'defund the police' efforts, or more restrictive policies for police and prosecutors. It was the familiar scourge cited in debates ranging from infrastructure to supply chains to tax increases…[more]
 
 
—Jonathan Turley, Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University
— Jonathan Turley, Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University
 
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