The PJ Tatler

Oversight Panel Confronts Forced Union Political Contributions

When labor unions come to Washington to pal with Occupy DC, they’re likely to be angry about more than the roster of speakers at CPAC. The House Oversight Committee launches a hearing at 10 a.m. EST this morning about protecting workers from forced political contributions through labor unions — so the White House should be protesting as well. According to prepared statements, Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) will say:

Today’s hearing will examine the process by which union dues are collected and how transparent unions are about this process.  The Committee’s focus is not an examination of the validity of unions or their right to exist, but rather an effort to ensure that the political activity of unions does not infringe the freedoms of workers.

Because of recent court decisions and a systematic effort by the Obama Administration to reduce union transparency and reporting requirements, union workers do not currently know how much of the money from their paycheck dues is being funneled to SuperPACs or used for other political activity.  The Administration has also drastically reduced the Department of Labor’s ability to effectively audit labor organizations.

The “Right to Choose” hearing will hear from workers, not just wonks, on these contributions. Like Terry Bowman, a United Auto Workers member from Ypsilanti, Mich., who started a group called Union Conservatives:

Since I started Union Conservatives, I have heard the stories of hundreds of union workers who are also tired and fed up with the political activities of their own unions. These American citizens rightly believe that the unions have become quasi-political parties and socio- economic groups pushing a radical, left-wing ideology that many of their workers, including me, find offensive. Up to 40% of union workers vote Republican. That means over 5 million union workers in the United States alone feel harassed, ridiculed and persecuted because of the political activities of their union bosses.

…The amount of forced union dues spent on political activities which 40% or more of their members disagree, is staggering.

You can watch the hearing live at the Oversight Committee’s website.