Dues and Don'ts

Should all businesses be forced to pay dues to the Chamber of Commerce?

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For a bold step towards freedom and fairness, legislators should repeal a law that forces government employees to contribute dues or fees to a union. Because these politically powerful unions benefit financially from the coercive extractions, this won’t happen without a fight. The speciousness of some arguments employed by government union defenders demonstrates just how far they’ll go to defend these forcibly extracted dues.

For example, after Michigan Capitol Confidential broke news last week that the SEIU was removing hundreds of dollars in “dues” annually from the subsidy of a struggling couple who look after their own disabled children, Fox Business Network picked up the story. One segment featured a debate between two panelists on this particular example, and the larger issue of forced unionization in general.

Arguing for the unions, a representative of an entity calling itself “Demos” said, “[The parents] benefited from the union activities…this is industrial democracy at its best.” He argued that because unions “helped this family,” they should be required to become part of the union, whether they wanted to or not.

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This common line of argument defends coercive dues as a legitimate solution to a “free-rider problem”: Even individuals who want no part of a union should be forced to pay for one, because the union’s work supposedly still benefits them.

By this same logic, every private firm in the state should be forced to pay dues to the Michigan Chamber of Commerce or the National Federation of Independent Businesses, both of which defend business interests. One suspects that unions and their legislative allies would be reluctant to extend their support for such a plan, and properly so.

Government has no business forcing individuals or firms to hand over their money to any private entity, be that a private trade group or a government employee union.


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Ted Nelson is a retired Michigan State Police officer who trained police departments throughout the state on civil asset forfeiture. He believes the practice has been misused and needs to change.

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