Right-to-work is wrong for union bosses

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When labor unions insist right-to-work laws are “wrong,” what they really mean is right-to-work laws are wrong for union bosses.

Union bosses have a financial interest in fighting right-to-work. On the books in 24 states and being considered in New Mexico, Missouri, Wisconsin and elsewhere, right-to-work laws allow workers to choose whether to pay unions.

Right-to-work laws do nothing to prevent workers from forming, joining, or bargaining through a union, so union officials are stuck fabricating reasons Americans should be forced to pay unions for their own good.

In a particularly silly attempt to defend forced unionism, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees recently promoted a graphic blaming right-to-work for workplace deaths.

Unlike the infographic AFSCME pushed to supporters earlier this month, which did not cite the 2002 AFL-CIO news release its “facts” came from, this graphic is based on the latest available data from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Hundreds of labor union officers and employees in Washington, D.C., are paid with money taken from workers who must contribute to unions as a condition of employment. Unions can take mandatory fees from private-sector workers in 26 states, and from government workers in 23 states.

AFSCME President Lee Saunders, paid a total of $350,058 in 2013, was one of 17 AFSCME headquarters officers and employees who received more than $200,000 from the government union. AFSCME took forced dues from 130,920 nonmembers in 2013, based on its annual report to the Department of Labor.

American Federation of Teachers, the country’s second-largest teachers union, paid its president, Randi Weingarten, a total of $557,875 in 2014. Weingarten’s gross salary alone was $375,174, and she was one of 19 AFT officers and employees paid more than $200,000.

Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association, was paid $345,728 as the union’s vice president in 2014. Union officers and employees in NEA’s Washington, D.C., headquarters were paid an average of $127,620 last year.

Outgoing NEA president Dennis Van Roekel was paid $541,632 with money taken from teachers and other school staff. Van Roekel and Eskelsen Garcia were among 45 NEA headquarters officers and employees paid more than $200,000 while NEA took forced dues from 90,255 nonmembers.

Although NEA, AFSCME and AFT — all public-sector labor unions — are three of America’s largest unions, other labor bosses are paid even more. Terry O’Sullivan, president of Laborers International Union of North America, was paid $663,981 and Transportation Communications Union President Bob Scardelletti was paid $641,215 in 2013.

Contrary to agitated union claims that right-to-work is “wrong,” backed by union-funded research and colorful graphics from front groups like Jobs With Justice and We Are Ohio, unions are big businesses looking out for their own interests.

NEA headquarters took $362 million from educators last year, while AFT headquarters took $169 million. AFSCME headquarters collected $179 million from government workers in 2013.