F.R. Duplantier reporting Behind The Headlines
Week of:
October 29, 2000
Union Bosses Hijacking Government

F.R. Duplantier

by: F.R. Duplantier

"Big Labor's bosses . . . dream of the day when every government worker pays them dues."

"While news stories often report shrinking union membership in the private sector, they rarely mention the rapid growth of government unions," observes Reed Larson of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. "The results of this power grab include higher taxes on businesses and families; bloated bureaucracies, which increasingly interfere in the everyday lives of Americans and harass job-producing businesses; and control of schools by union chiefs rather than parents, taxpayers, and classroom teachers. But the primary result of this explosion of union power in the government sector," says Larson, "is the involuntary servitude into which millions of government workers are driven. For at least half of unionized state and local government workers," he asserts, "the paying of union dues is not voluntary. In practice, these workers are compelled to pay union bosses just to get and keep their jobs."

In his 1999 book Stranglehold: How Union Bosses Have Hijacked Our Government, Larson exposes the risky scheme that guarantees the growth of labor power at the expense of the American taxpayer. "Politicians riding to elective office on the back of Big Labor's political machine vote for governmentsector unionization," he explains. "This puts more workers and more dollars under Big Labor's control, and union bosses use this increased power to elect more politicians who will do their bidding. This cycle of mutual back-scratching must be broken," Larson advises. "It is tremendously harmful to our nation's economic prosperity, and it severely distorts a political order which assumes . . . that 'We the People' are self-governing."

Larson outlines the grim consequences of an unchecked growth in government unions. "Higher taxes, bloated bureaucracies, strikes, poorer public services, corruption, and sometimes violence -- these are the costs citizens pay for government-sector compulsory unionism," he declares. "Lost freedom, less money, some lost jobs, harassment, and violence -- these are the costs to workers." The potential effect on emergency services is particularly worrisome. "Forced unionization of police, fire, and rescue workers literally threatens the lives and safety of Americans by handing union officials virtually unchecked power over crucial public services," Larson warns. "Strikes, work slowdowns, and retaliatory actions disrupt the lives of citizens in dozens of places every year," he reports. "Many other vital and important services -- garbage collection, tax administration, animal control, and health inspection -- present union bosses with a wide range of opportunities to influence voters and threaten private companies and citizens, while the drain on taxpayers increases and the quality of public service falls."

Larson reports that "government expenses and debt in Right to Work states average $1,742 less (per capita) than in non-Right to Work states." Conversely, "government in a non-Right to Work state is 55.6 percent more expensive and the taxpayer burden is $592 higher (per capita)." He cites surveys showing that "over 75 percent of the American people support the Right to Work without being forced to join or pay dues to a union. Even more Americans oppose compulsory unionization of government employees," Larson adds. "Nevertheless, without mobilization of a broad base of freedom-loving Americans, Big Labor could prevail."

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