The St. Clair Times

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December 20, 2014

Letter: Column about labor uniors was off base

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Posted: Friday, January 31, 2014 10:35 am | Updated: 2:53 pm, Wed Jun 11, 2014.

Dear Editor,

First, I would like to commend you and the staff of the St. Clair Times for endeavoring to present all points of view in the paper. We live in a diverse society, and we don’t always have to agree with one another, but at least in the St. Clair Times we can all have a voice.

That said, I would like to take issue with Mr. George Will’s column "Government should not force people into unions" (Jan. 23). He was referring to a case that recently came up before the Supreme Court in which, if I understand correctly, three individuals, who happen not to like unions, object to having to pay that portion of union dues that goes toward union bargaining efforts. 

In a previous case, the Supreme Court ruled that everyone who benefits from the union contract must pay their fair share of the costs of bargaining. The decision was intended to prevent "free riders."

As it happens, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) was chosen by a majority (I believe the number of people is 27,000) of home health care workers to represent them. Since the union was voted in, the home health care workers’ wages have doubled, and turnover has diminished greatly.

Unions are legally allowed only to bargain over wages, hours and working conditions. Before unions, employees worked long hours for miserable wages, often in dangerous working conditions. Unions are allowed to engage in political activity (Supreme Court-"Citizens United"), and to use a portion of members’ dues for that purpose. 

As far as I can tell, the three individuals who are a part of the current case are not union members. But they do benefit from union efforts. They have a First Amendment right to object to having to paying their fair share to get the benefits that union members enjoy, but they are not being forced to pay for the union’s political activity.

Respectfully yours,

 

  Maria Skinner, Ragland

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