The choice of whether to fund a union is a deeply personal one.
State and local government workers and
Public school employees who have chosen not
to be union members have done so for a number of reasons, including the following:
- The union spends too much money on political causes.
- The union isn’t representing me well.
- I would like freedom to make choices that benefit my family and me without fear of union punishment.
- My family budget is tight, and it would really help if the union wasn’t taking dues money from me every paycheck.
The union spends too much money on political causes.
Unions are inherently political. And member dues fund politicians and causes that workers may oppose. Opting out allows you to determine where your hard-earned money goes.
Take a look at the following examples from three of the main government unions in Illinois and their national counterparts:
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31/AFSCME headquarters:
- AFSCME Council 31 and AFSCME headquarters spend millions on politics.
Between 2013 and 2017, they spent over $213 million on political activities and lobbying.
- AFSCME headquarters frequently spends more on politics than it does on representing workers.
Federal reporting documents reveal that AFSCME headquarters spent, on average,
over $50 million a year on political activities and lobbying in the last 10 years –
but under $42 million a year on representational activities.
- Council 31’s PAC spends millions on Illinois Democrats.
Between 2013 and 2017, it directed over $6.8 million to election committees and
other political action committees in Illinois. Of that amount, 74 percent was
directed toward Democratic committees or organizations, with just 6 percent
toward Republican committees or organizations. The remainder went to committees
or organizations not necessarily tied to a political party.
Illinois Federation of Teachers/American Federation of Teachers
- IFT and AFT spend millions on politics.
Between 2013 and 2017, IFT and AFT spent over $164 million on political activities and lobbying.
- AFT sends millions of dollars to its political account.
In the 2016 election cycle, AFT PAC’s contributions to federal candidates topped $1.7 million to
Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.;
Sen. Tammy Duckworth D-Ill.; and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. It spent just $5,500 on Republican candidates.
- IFT sends millions to Chicago affiliates – but a relative pittance to downstate affiliates.
IFT sent over $2.5 million to the Chicago Teachers Union and over $962,000 to other affiliates in Chicago
and the Chicago suburbs for representational purposes – but less than $81,000 to affiliates south of I-80.
Illinois Education Association/National Education Association
- IEA and NEA spend millions on politics.
Between 2013 and 2017, IEA and NEA spent over $219 million on political activities and lobbying.
- NEA has been known to spend more on politics than on representing workers.
Federal reporting documents reveal that twice in the last five years, NEA has spent more on political activities and lobbying than it has on representational activities.
- IEA’s PAC spends millions on Illinois politics.
Between 2013 and 2017, it directed over $11.3 million to election committees and other political action committees in Illinois.
The union isn’t representing me well.
There’s a good chance you never voted for your union. In fact, many of Illinois’ government worker
unions were in place before current workers were even born.
Perhaps the union failed to provide adequate support when you filed a grievance.
Maybe the union’s priorities no longer reflect the priorities of its members.
Or perhaps you don’t oppose the politicians the union supports, but think the union’s job is to represent you –
not to engage in highly political activities.
Opting out allows you to retain your dues if you don’t think the union is representing you well.
And it sends a message that the union needs to work harder to support the workers it represents.
I would like more freedom to make choices that benefit my family and me – without fear of union punishment
Government worker strikes are not uncommon in Illinois. In fact, the state is home to two of the nation’s biggest government worker strikes in the last decade
– both at the hands of Chicago Teachers Union.
And that means public school educators and other government workers in Illinois frequently have to make an intensely personal and stressful decision: 1)
Go to work and get paid – and risk fines or other punishment by the union, or 2) Go on strike –
and risk not only your paycheck, but, unbeknownst to many workers, maybe even your job.
Because the union has no disciplinary authority over nonmembers, opting out provides you more freedom to make the choice that is best for you and your family.
My family budget is tight, and it would really help if the union wasn’t taking dues money from me every paycheck.
Government employees direct hundreds of dollars – or more – every year to their government unions.
That is money the workers earn, but never get to see.
Opting out of the union allows you to keep more of your hard-earned money.