Correct Union Right-to-Work Analogy: Like Firing Vegetarians for Not Buying Meat

Union activists are concerned about an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court ruling on state laws that compel public employees to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment (Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association). One of them is using a variation on the riff that workers in a unionized workplace who do not want to pay the union are “freeloaders":

“Let's say you went to dinner with a group of friends. You have $20 in your pocket, but when the check comes you say you are not going to pay for your meal because you didn't like the side dish that came with your meal. Do you have the right to make your friends pick up your tab?”

This appeared in an “open letter to teachers” posted by union activist John T. McCrann in the Education Week website last week.

ForTheRecord says: McCrann’s analogy misrepresents the reality of compulsory union dues. A correct version would go like this:

“Let’s say you are a vegetarian but your boss requires that you pay for meals provided in a workplace cafeteria that only serves meat. When you object, the cafeteria manager calls you a ‘freeloader,’ and if you refuse to pay, state law requires your boss to fire you.”

Among other things, the original analogy fails to recognize that unions often use employees' dues and fees payments to promote interests and positions that a worker may strongly oppose. (Example: Conservative teachers may object to the National Education Association giving 97 percent of its campaign contributions to Democrats or liberals.)