An Open Letter to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Regarding Automatic Withholding of Union Dues
The recent editorial by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch misleads the public on the importance of transparency in the payment of union dues. The bill in question, Missouri’s House Bill 1891, requires public employees’ annual approval to have their union contributions automatically deducted from their paychecks. The bill does not outlaw public employee unions, nor does it make political contributions by labor organizations illegal. The bill doesn’t even end the practice of automatic deductions of dues or fees from public employees’ paychecks. Rather, the bill simply requires that employees explicitly approve each year of the deductions.
Ultimately, the bill is about political transparency. Rather than stealthily divert workers’ wages toward political activities, this bill brings those contributions to the full attention of union members. Any worker who would like to give his or her paycheck to a union’s political causes is absolutely free to contribute—as long as their consent is clearly and actively given by opting into such an arrangement. Furthermore, if public employees actually approve of the political spending by their union, then switching from an opt-out system to an opt-in system should have no effect.
American politics needs the political balance achieved through an informed population making voluntary choices with full transparency. Ensuring union members make a voluntary and informed choice about making political contributions through their union dues strengthens the political process.