Freedom Foundation

Union Bosses and Politicians Have Very Itchy Backs. Lucky for them, Unlucky for the Taxpayer

Corruption and exploitation are so common in American politics that the phrase “backroom deal” has become a staple when referring to government officials and the arrangements they make with their political cronies.

Some of the most costly backroom deals are the collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) negotiated between politicians and the public sector union bosses who contributed generously to their campaigns.

One thing is certain: when such deals take place, taxpayers and the First Amendment rights of public employees are the big losers.

Government unions provide the most reliable revenue source in the political arena —dues deductions from taxpayer-funded employee paychecks — that fill politicians’ campaign coffers.

And union bosses, like elected officials, are very generous with other people’s money.

Thus begins the cycle of back scratching: politicians, whose political victories are purchased with union dues, warmly welcome the mandates of union bosses during collective bargaining negotiations, and union bosses promise there is more campaign money to be had when they get what they want.

You’d think that if politicians and union bosses enjoyed back scratching this much, they would have pursued a career in massage therapy.

In private industry, negotiating with unions usually involves an actual discussion over cost-benefit analyses. In the public sector, however, liberal politicians will typically give unions everything they demand.

After all, their elected positions were bought and paid for with government union dues.

Recently a series of leaked emails between the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) highlight the very real concept of the “backroom deal”. During the course of several meetings and email exchanges, the teacher’s union was allowed to actually shape public policy concerning the return to in-person instruction.

Keeping schools closed for a year came at a very real cost to the students who were prevented a quality education, the parents who had to step in as educators, and the taxpayers who picked up the tab while teachers who wanted re-open schools had no voice in the matter.

The teachers’ union scandal is just one example of government officials revealing who they answer to, and it’s not the American citizens.

The Freedom Foundation in Ohio is beginning to impact the cozy relationship between politicians and public sector union officials, to the benefit of taxpayers and state employees alike.  Our efforts to educate Ohio’s public employees of their First Amendment right not to fund these unions is starting to make a difference.

Previously, the Ohio Civil Service Employee Association (OCSEA) compelled state agencies to act on the assumption that all state employees wanted to be dues paying members. Dues collection was made automatic and done without the consent of the employee whose hard-earned money was funneled into OCESA’s bank accounts.

Ohio state employees had to take deliberate action to opt out and stop paying dues to OCSEA.

This default arrangement is now changing. A nearly finalized draft of OCSEA’s 2021-2024 CBA includes language that requires OCSEA to show a public employee’s proof of consent to dues deduction before the state of Ohio is authorized to make the deduction.

The automatic withdrawal of dues will now require OCSEA to produce a signed and verified dues card.

Time will tell if this new process is just theoretical or is practiced by the state. The advocacy work of the Freedom Foundation in Ohio, however, has undoubtedly helped facilitate a major victory for Ohio’s public servants. Moving forward, collection of dues should not ensue without verification.

This important achievement would not be possible without the generosity and kindness of those who support and champion the Freedom Foundation’s work in Ohio.

There is more to be done to hold government unions accountable to the taxpayers and public employees. But for now, let’s raise a glass to the start of ending big government union corruption in Ohio.