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The Right to Freeload

United Steelworkers International president Leo Gerard does not like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s budget reforms, which infringe on the mythical public employee “right” to collective bargaining, something unions and leftists have been trying to conjure out of thin air by endlessly chanting its name. 

“This is a nation-wide campaign by billionaires and country-club conservatives, to terminate workers’ rights, giving unfettered power to corporations,” declared Gerard in a press release.  What do changes in the compensation of public employees have to do with the unfettered power of private corporations?  Don’t ask questions when the man is on a roll.

The USW says that “So far in Wisconsin, conservatives have granted only government workers the right to freeload.”  Lest you misinterpret this as some kind of self-deprecating slam at the fabulous benefits and poor performance of public union employees, the USW clarifies that this means “the ability to benefit from collective bargaining without paying union dues.”

You see, one of the Walker reforms – the one union bosses care most about, by far – would cause the state government to stop providing free Accounts Receivable services for the big unions, by ending the practice of automatically withholding union dues from employee paychecks.  This would make it possible for union employees to avoid paying their dues… something large numbers of them have done, in other states which stopped pulling those dues out of payroll and handing them to the unions as a government-guaranteed cash flow.

Since every public employee clearly benefits from collective bargaining, this would make those who refuse to pay their dues into “freeloaders.”  I hope that logic isn’t applied to other big leftist organizations.  We all benefit from the tireless efforts of “climate change” activists to purify the Earth by returning us to happier and simpler lives of pre-industrial agriculture.  Why should donations to support their noble crusade be optional?

You’ll find no better expression of the inherently totalitarian nature of collectivism than the idea that evading payment of mandatory dues for compulsory membership in an organization, which uses much of that money for political activity, is “freeloading,” especially when the unsustainable benefits “negotiated” through collective bargaining are bankrupting the state. 

The USW argument turns unions into the billion-dollar equivalent of squeegee men – the guys who run up to cars stopped at traffic lights, take a few swipes at dirty windshields without asking, and then angrily demand payment for their work.  If their model of “public service” requires the government to seize funds directly from payroll checks, and hand it over to high-rolling union bosses who feed a good deal that money right back to politicians, then Leo Gerard has made a compelling argument for getting rid of public unions altogether.  Collectivism is not optional, which is one reason why free people should vigorously oppose all of its manifestations.

Written By

John Hayward began his blogging career as a guest writer at Hot Air under the pen name "Doctor Zero," producing a collection of essays entitled Doctor Zero: Year One. He is a great admirer of free-market thinkers such as Arthur Laffer, Milton Friedman, and Thomas Sowell. He writes both political and cultural commentary, including book and movie reviews. An avid fan of horror and fantasy fiction, he has produced an e-book collection of short horror stories entitled Persistent Dread. John is a former staff writer for Human Events. He is a regular guest on the Rusty Humphries radio show, and has appeared on numerous other local and national radio programs, including G. Gordon Liddy, BattleLine, and Dennis Miller.

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