Should a person be forced, against their will, to reach into their own pocket and give money to a cause with which they disagree? This is the question that thousands of union members in Ohio are confronted with every year. Unfortunately, their freedom to make this decision is severely restricted since Ohio is a Forced Union state.
This is why The Buckeye Institute has once again partnered with the Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI) and more than 80 other groups in 45 states to raise awareness for National Employee Freedom Week that runs August 10 through August 16. National Employee Freedom Week is a national effort designed to educate union members about their legal rights concerning membership as well as the use of member funds for purposes other than collective bargaining.
According to a national poll commissioned by NPRI, nearly 30 percent of union households nationally would opt out of union membership if given the chance. In Ohio, the number of people that believe employees should have the right to decide, without the use of force or penalty, whether or not to join a union is a staggering 80.5 percent.
While many union members are pleased with their representation, there are also many who feel compelled to pay dues to an organization that spends their hard-earned dollars on issues with no connection to their union’s stated purpose of collectively bargaining on behalf of its members.
And many of the issues that are supported by unions that have nothing to do with collective bargaining are controversial among union members. For example, the National Education Association (NEA), the national affiliate for the Ohio Education Association, has approved a laundry list of controversial resolutions, including:
- Urging participation by the United States in deliberations before the [International Court of Justice];
- Supporting the nuclear freeze;
- Promoting DC statehood;
- Opposing efforts to legislate English as the official language; and
- Supporting efforts to abate climate change.
The NEA is not alone. Unions frequently take positions and use PACs to promote causes and candidates that may be contrary to the views of members.
People can have reasonable disagreements about the controversial issues listed above, but should union members be compelled to support their organization’s stance on these issues, even if they have a deeply felt objection?
Fortunately, union members who do not want their money going to support these types of causes without their consent do have options-and National Employee Freedom Week seeks to assure that union members are aware of these options. In Ohio, union members can block their money from being used for political activities by becoming what is referred to as an “agency fee payer.” This will mean that they are paying only for the direct representation offered by the union in collective bargaining. To learn more about this option, click here. One can also become a “religious or conscientious objector” where the dues are deducted but made payable to a charity. Click here to learn about this option.
Despite these options, there is only one way that current and prospective union members can assure themselves of complete employee freedom, and this is for Ohio to become a Right to Work state.
The Buckeye Institute has published numerous reports showcasing the economic benefits Ohio can reap from becoming a Right to Work state, including our 2012 report,
Ohio Right-to-Work: How the Economic Freedom of Workers Enhances Prosperity, and our monthly Ohio by the Numbers reports. However, this issue is about more than economics; it’s about right and wrong. No one should be forced to pay to join an association against their free will, much less so if that association uses their money to promote causes that are against their personal beliefs. This is the message of National Employee Freedom Week, and it is a message the Buckeye Institute hopes you will spread around the state, especially to those who may be unaware that there is a path to freedom.