Freedom Foundation

Why Are Unions Exempt from The Burden the Rest of Us Must Bear?

Originally posted on SPJ.news

Oregonians from all walks of life are facing unprecedented economic uncertainty.

However, not all hope is lost.

Earlier this month the President signed a historic $2 trillion federal stimulus package that includes checks being sent directly to individuals — $1,200 for single Americans, $2,400 for married couples and $500 to parents for each of their children.

But Oregon can do even more. Governor Kate Brown has a historic opportunity to supplement the federal dollars with millions of additional state aid — and it wouldn’t cost taxpayers a dime.

All she has to do is suspend union dues being deducted from government employee paychecks for three months.

According to UnionStats.com, there are more than 144,000 public employees in Oregon, and these workers pay an average of $800 annually in union dues. Consequently, suspending dues deductions for three months would give these workers and their families an additional $200 in take-home pay and pump nearly $29 million into the state’s economy.

Doubling the moratorium to six months would bring that total to almost $58 million.

No one disputes that everyone will need to make sacrifices in order to weather the storm ahead. The only question is whether “everyone” will include Kate Brown’s union friends.

Under the current arrangement, they’re one of the very few entities not being hurt at all. Whether they remain on the job or not, public employees continue to be paid — and their designated union keeps deducting dues from every paycheck.

And for what indispensable purpose is this money being used? Once dozens of union leaders pay themselves six-figure salaries, the overwhelming majority of the dues dollars are used for political lobbying and campaign contributions.

U.S. Department of Labor data show the largest government unions in Oregon (OEA, SEIU, AFSCME, OSEA) currently have cash reserves totaling over $21.3 million. With so much cash on hand, government unions in Oregon are in better shape than nearly all small businesses in the state.

Why, other than favoritism, should this wealthy, powerful special interest continue its activities unfazed while the rest of the country — including the workers the union claims to represent — struggles to cope with the current emergency?

Gov. Brown’s answer to that question will tell Oregonians all they need to know about her true priorities.

State Rep. Mike Nearman (R-Independence) represents the Western Willamette Valley and is a Senior Fellow at the Freedom Foundation.  Jason Dudash is the Oregon Director for the Freedom Foundation.