Tuesday, October 10, 2006

"Fair share" is unfair...

Here is a letter-to-the-editor that I wrote to my local paper concerning what unions call the "fair share" provision of New Hampshire's state employee's contract. This proposal would allow the union to dock the wages of non-union-members. I assume a similar effort is being mounted by unions in other states.

Regarding the so-called "fair share" provision of the State Employees' Association contract, Matthew Pappas wrote:

"By law, unions must represent not only their dues-paying members, but also those covered by the collective bargaining agreement who do not join the union. What's more, non-members covered by the agreement receive the same salaries, benefits and other contractual protections union members fight for. Without a fair-share provision, therefore, non-members unfairly receive for free all of these negotiated services and benefits."

Mr. Pappas is correct that such an arrangement is unfair to unions, which are forced to represent those who do not pay union dues. However, Mr. Pappas' solution is just as unfair to non-union members.

The fair share provision allows unions to deduct money from an employee's paycheck without his consent. This is tantamount to a payroll tax, imposed by a labor union, on those who choose not to be a member of that union.

Unions counter by insisting that non-members get valuable services in exchange for the money taken from their paychecks. But shouldn't it be up to an employee to decide what his own money is worth, and how it is spent? How is it that a labor union can force an employee to accept services he does not want, and then force that employee to pay for those services?

A fair solution would have unions receiving funds from, and offering services to, only those who desire those services. Those who choose not to join would not be entitled to union representation, nor would they be required to pay for it. That's fair to everyone.

Unfortunately, such an arrangement is not permitted under current collective bargaining legislation, and unions oppose efforts to devise a fair arrangement like the one described above. It seems unions are less concerned with fairness than they are with expanding their power over members and non-members alike.

As long as unions oppose reforms that would bring about real fairness, it seems appropriate that any unfairness in the current system be on their backs instead of on the backs of non-union workers whose wages they wish to appropriate.

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