Employee Freedom Respects Workers’ Choice

CascadeNewLogoBy Kathryn Hickok

Why might workers like the opportunity to opt out of union membership?

Some believe they can make better use of their own money rather than giving it to a union. Others “vote with their feet” against what they perceive to be poor union service or negotiating results. Still others leave because they oppose their unions’ political positions. They simply don’t want to support any organization that doesn’t share their political beliefs.

Many scientific surveys have been conducted to see how the public and members of union households feel about these issues. A survey conducted for this year’s National Employee Freedom Week asked members of union households this question:

“Are you aware that you can opt-out of union membership and of paying a portion of your union dues without losing your job or any other penalty?”

Surprisingly, over 27 percent of Oregon union household members surveyed answered No. This implies that over 65,000 of Oregon’s some 243,000 union members don’t realize that membership and some dues are optional.

The right to work without third-party interference is more than an economic issue; it is a profoundly moral one as well. In America, no one should be compelled to join a union or to pay union dues in order to hold a job. For more information about how employee choice can benefit Oregon workers, visit oregonemployeechoice.com.

Kathryn Hickok is Publications Director at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free-market public policy research organization.

  • David from Mill City

    This whole argument fails because it overlooks a basic reality, all Union membership is voluntary. If you do not want to join a Union you do not have to go to work at a Union represented job. Just like, if you don’t want to wear a Uniform you do not have to take a job where a Uniform is required. Or if you do not want to start work before 8AM you do not take one that starts at 6AM. Just like work schedules, uniform requirements, safety rules and equipment requirements, drug tests and security searches, being a member of the Union at a Union Represented work place is a requirement of the job. And if you do not like a requirement of a job you just do not seek employment there. No one is forcing you to take a job with a Union Shop, taking the job there is voluntary.

    Besides, Unions are democratically run organizations, if a member does not like the way the Union is being run he is free to find like minded members and through the democratic process change the Union’s policies and procedures. Will making that type of change be easy, not likely, particularly if you subscribe to the right-wing goal of Third-World wages and employment standards in the United States, but if you can find enough members, who agree with you, you can cause changes to happen.

    • Eric Blair

      I think their basic reality consists of supporting employers and eviscerating unions. For them it is a win/win – workers with a weaker (if any) ability to bargain work conditions and wages, and less union money in politics. I’m guessing the latter is what is truly important since union money seems to be the only counterbalance to corporate money.

    • thevillageidiot

      Working for Kroger if the store is union (UFCW, not all stores in all locations are) you are required to join the union whether you are full time or part time or lose your job. it is also state law. the unions use coercion of government to enforce their agendas, as do the major corporations but it still does not make it right. two wrongs do not make right. Re-reading your email sure sounds like sarcasm. Change the union policies? hasn’t happened yet. Democratically run? like the mob. you pay us protection money you keep your job. if you don’t pay we will send someone to encourage you to participate.

  • Eric Blair

    Now please explain in the context of David’s post, just how this is a profoundly moral issue?

    • redbean

      It’s about the right of consenting adults to engage in mutually agreeable economic activity without the mob’s interference.

  • unionboss

    I love my union. If it were not for them I would have lost my job years ago. They look out after me and prevent management from making silly decisions that might hurt me. Also, they get me a lot of paid sick leave, which to me is simply a benefit and so I use it regardless, if you get my drift.
    Union people have changed over the years…most are nice people who are looking out for the rest of us. I appreciate their service and applaud them for it.
    It makes no sense for me to only earn 50K a year running a crane when there are doctors and lawyers making 3 million or more a year. No sense at all.
    If you don’t like unions then move to St. Maarten. They don’t have any there. None.