Indiana, PA - Indiana County

MARK STASZKIEWICZ and DAVID LOOMIS: Argument on state union dues flawed

on February 09, 2014 2:00 AM

Julie Anderson’s argument equating the state Legislature’s 2007 Bonusgate scandal with the ongoing practice of union dues spent on legislative lobbying (“Un-ions getting special treatment on dues,” Feb. 2) is a textbook example of a logical fallacy.

Ms. Anderson argues that unions are guilty of the same offenses that have sent state officials to jail — namely, “illegal use of government funds for political purposes.”

The logical flaw is a claim of guilt by association: Because some legislators broke the law, then unions must also be breaking the law by spending union money on legislative lobbying.

The argument fails to acknowledge that public officials broke laws against corruption. Public-employee unions do not break laws when a portion of their membership dues are deducted from their paychecks to lobby for legislation beneficial to their interests. (See U.S. Constitution, First Amendment: “freedom ... to petition the government for redress of grievances” — aka the right to lobby.)

The process of having dues withdrawn as a payroll deduction in most cases is a procedure negotiated between unions and employers and not forced upon the employer. In fact, many unions have negotiated direct deposit of paychecks to reduce the cost of payroll functions.

Further, once established, the cost to the employer is minimal, as the payroll systems are already designed for deduction of such voluntary activities as direct contributions to charities, like the State Employee Combined Appeal (SECA).

Meanwhile, in Harrisburg, union workers on Jan. 28 packed the state Capitol to overflowing in a demonstration of opposition to two legislative measures aimed at defunding unions and weakening the labor movement. (“Labor unions pack state Capitol over paycheck bill,” Indiana Gazette, Jan. 29, Page 1). These are the bills supported by Ms. Anderson.

But even Republican leaders have backed away from the effort.

Evidently, these GOP legislators view the two bills as bad law and bad politics. Moreover, the measures reflect bad policy.

Weakening collective bargaining means weakening all workers, not just unionized workers.

As political debates over income inequality spread in this election year, workers nationwide are reminded that their stagnant wages are partly a result of weakened collective bargaining and declining unions. Thus, for workers, support for anti-union laws reflects another logical fallacy — cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face.

Mark Staszkiewicz



David Loomis

P.R. Committee chair


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