A lawsuit over West Virginia’s new anti-labor “right-to-work” law helps us understand what’s at stake in South Dakota’s Initiated Measure 23, the fair-share union dues proposal.
Last February, the West Virginia Legislature passed a Koch-brothers-endorsed law ending the requirement that employees pay dues to the unions that represent them in contract negotiations, with the intent of reducing the power of organized labor and luring big corporate employers to the state. In May, the AFL-CIO and other unions sued West Virginia to overturn this law. Yesterday evening, a circuit court judge enjoined the law pending resolution of that lawsuit. The unions presented the following argument about the financial impact of this anti-labor law:
The law, which allows workers in union shops to opt out of paying union dues, is an illegal taking of union and union members’ property, since federal labor law requires unions to represent all employees covered by collective bargaining agreements, whether they pay dues or not.
Ken Hall, president of Teamsters Local 175, in South Charleston, and secretary-treasurer of Teamsters International, testified that members of Local 175 would end up paying an extra $172 in union dues to cover union services provided to so-called free-riders [Phil Kabler, “Kanawha Judge Blocks WV Right-to-Work,” Charleston Gazette-Mail, 2016.08.10].
Let’s see… the South Dakota Education Association represents more than 5,000 teachers in our state. We have over 9,000 teachers. That means around 4,000 teachers not in SDEA but enjoying their local education associations’ representation in collective bargaining. If we can extrapolate $172 from West Virginia to South Dakota, we can estimate around $690,000 in free collective bargaining services rendered for non-union teachers in South Dakota.
That’s the free ride that IM 23 advocates are talking about. If you’re getting services from a union, you ought to pay for them. Funny—anti-union conservatives accuse Bernie Sanders supporters of wanting free stuff.