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  • Morning Bell: Unions Just Flushed $5 Million of Your Tax Dollars Down the Toilet

    It is not every day we get to agree with the Obama administration. But after Sen. Blanche Lincoln defeated Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter in the Arkansas Democratic Senate primary runoff election, after the AFL-CIO, SEIU, AFSCME poured millions of dollars into Halter’s campaign, a senior White House official told Politico: “Organized labor just flushed $10 million of their members’ money down the toilet.” But it wasn’t just “their members” money that those unions were wasting. This year the Bureau of Labor Statistics confirmed that for the first time in the history of the United States, a majority of union members work for the government, not the private sector. To be exact, 52% of all union members work for the federal or state and local governments. That means more than half of the $10 million that unions wasted just in Arkansas first came from your tax dollars. And the waste goes well beyond Arkansas.

    In his ongoing battle with teachers unions, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) recently told a town hall in Robbinsville: “My argument is not with teachers in New Jersey. My argument is with a union who collects $730 a year from every teacher and school employee in the union in mandatory dues. And if you don’t want to join the union here’s your option: you can be out. You pay 85% of $730 … to be out. It’s like the Hotel California. You can check in anytime you like but you can never leave. That raises for the teachers union, get ready, $130 million a year. What do they spend that money on? … $6 million in negative advertising against me since March 16th. Think about that. That’s a little over two months they have spent $6 million on New York TV and Radio, Philadelphia TV and radio to attack me. That’s dues money that is coming from their teachers, mandatory no choice, and from all of you because those salaries come from your property taxes and your state income taxes.”

    Christie’s fight with government unions is over his constitutional amendment that would limit annual property tax increases to 2.5 percent. Government unions hate this policy because lower taxes mean less government spending which means less dues from government employees. At a meeting with conservative journalists yesterday at The Heritage Foundation, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels called government unions “the new privileged class in America.” He told Politico earlier this week: “We used to think of government workers as underpaid public servants. Now they are better paid than the people who pay their salaries.”

    As Heritage fellow James Sherk has documented this battle between government unions and the people who pay their salaries is playing out across the country. In Maine, the Maine Municipal Association, the SEIU, the Teamsters, and the Maine Education Association collectively spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to campaign against a ballot initiative that would have prevented government spending from growing faster than the combined rate of inflation and population growth. In Illinois, AFSCME Council 31 ran television and radio ads pushing for tax increases in their “Fair Budget Illinois” campaign. In Oregon, government unions provided 90 percent of the $4 million spent advocating two ballot initiatives to raise personal income and business taxes by $733 million.

    When a private sector company agrees to an unwise labor contract, it goes out of business (unless it gets bailed out by the government). But government never goes out of business, and in fact, always grows. In 2009 private-sector unions lost 834,000 members while public-sector unions actually gained 64,000 members. This is untenable. Something must change before government unions bankrupt this country.

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    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    52 Responses to Morning Bell: Unions Just Flushed $5 Million of Your Tax Dollars Down the Toilet

    1. Janet S, Atlanta says:

      There are a lot of things wrong with unions, but given the fact that it is hard to terminate a union member from a job, they are valuable in the eyes of the members. Considering the tough economic climate we are grappling with, most members are thankful for to have the union behind them. Your article rings true, but that I suspect most members won't try to stage an uprising of sorts, therefore, it will be business as usual.

    2. Ron, Albuqueruque says:

      There is a lot of rank and file people that understand the situation the Unions put them in, and are stuck! You can't stop paying dues, or they come and get it. The imtimidation factor as to who to vote for is huge, (thank heavens for the secret ballot). plus, the rank and file has absolutely NO choice in who the Unions supports. Your money will go to the selected one without your approval or disapproval. It's more like a cult, as long as you follow the leaders your ok! if not!! Whereas the Unions at one time assisted in correcting many problems, now things have changed so to the point of people wonder what does the leadership do for the rank and file? As an example, if there is a strike, who gets paid and who doesn't? All the money wasted on politcal issues should be used to assist the workers during the strike! if the leaders want to support a specific politican then they should support it out of their own pockets, not the rank and files fund! 10 dollar million wasted…gone… so are due going to increase to make up the loss?

    3. MJF, CT says:

      Unions have run their course and need to be disarmed. They are becoming way to powerful and are turning into gestapo-like factions.

    4. Grace says:

      It is amazing to me to see how Christie is being attacked. He is doing exactly what he said he was going to do. Libs are screaming about "big business" and all the money they make – they need to take a look at Unions and how much money they make and the influence they have. Hey I work in the private sector and my employer didn't give raises this year and stopped matching our 401K – I'm doing my part (forced or not) they need to do theirs too. That's the only way this country is going to come back. Two faced hypocrites Liberals.

    5. Richard Cancemi, Arl says:

      People dealing with other people's money allow themselves to be corrupted and that's what we have in every level of Government! But it's the people, who vote over and over for the same corrupt people, who are the ones to blame. The USA is functioning with a cancer of coruption that is eating away at everything. If we don't "cut it out" we will cease to exist as the the land of freedom with opportunity for all. We will become the land of slaves to a government that doesn't care a twit about any individual.

    6. Ken Cawthorne, Flag says:

      "Well, I never heard it before, but it sounds uncommon nonsense." -the Mock Turtle from Lewis Carroll's Behind the Looking Glass

      Whose idea was it to allow federal government employees to unionize? The idea is so preposterous as to defy rationality. Government bureaucrats are not like productive private-sector employees, whose employers may have incentives to limit improvements to pay, working conditions, safety issues, etc. Like about a dozen states, the federal government should simply outlaw collective bargaining for federal employees. Don't like it…get a real job! Why in the world are we careening down the superhighway of government services with one foot on the accelerator and the other on the brake! Just outlaw unions for all government employees!

    7. Drew Page, IL says:

      Don't you trealize that the tens and hundreds of millions that teachers unions spend in political campaign contributions and advertising is done only "FOR THE CHILDREN".

      Those union campaign contributions and advertising campaigns have nothing to do with annually increased teacher salaries, 'Cadillac' health insurance benefits, or outrageous pension benefits. No, no, not at all. It's always "FOR THE CHILDREN". And since, according to the teacher's unions, such salaries, benefits and pensions are necessary to attract and maintain only the best teachers, all the kids in America ought to be freeakin' geniuses. So I don't get where people get off saying that there is a crisis in Education.

      Maybe Arne Duncan can explain why that is. He tried to explain it when he was here in Chicago, running the public school system here, but couldn't quite figure it out then.

      And of course, we must pay our government bureaucrats and our legislators salaries that are on average $20,000 a year more than the average non-governmental salary. We must provide them top-notch health insurance benefit plans and exempt them from the health plans relegated to the rest of America. And let's not forget their deferred income coming from their pension plans that award them 80% or more of their salaries in retirment, which is 7 to 8 times more than they would get from social Security. Yeah, these poor souls absolutely need a strong union to protect them from the abuse of their employers – the U.S. taxpayer.

    8. Jeanne, Minneapolis says:

      And we wonder why they can't pay the (unfunded) retirement plans and health care costs for retired members. The unions were originally there to protect their members from unfair labor practices. Now all management are doing is helping themselves and their political hacks line their pockets! Talk about CORRUPT!! Sounds like Chicago politics to me.

    9. Matt Matuszewski, No says:



    10. Clarence Whitacre Ko says:

      I am going to send this till I get someone that has the guts to stand up with me and stop this discrimination. I want it understood that if all men are created equal and under our constitution deserve the same right to succeed, Why is the government allowed to take my tax dollars and give it to another to inhance their ability to succeed over me? it slows my ability to succeed because i'm subsidizing another. It's unconstitutional and discriminatory. Our Government has been spreading the wealth for years. Both parties I might add. The Government is supposed to do Government work. Not monkey with business. Pass laws to oversee fair trade and such but to be in business is not their job. Butch Whitacre Kokomo IND.

    11. John R. Salverda says:

      This is a good point. Because they are paid with taxpayer money, the money spent by government workers is taxpayer money. They even pay their taxes with taxpayer money. Thus they are not really helping to increase the tax revenue. As more and more of us become employed by the government, where will future tax revenues come from?

    12. Margaret Mueller, Ro says:

      I can't remember the year, but I recall my Dad saying, "It's all over. They've won," the day that Congress voted to allow public employee unions. Until they are outlawed, our people will work to pay taxes to support the politicians of one party, and one party only. Unions are the architecture for the destruction of true democracy.

    13. Sal, Washington Stat says:

      I think government unions should be outlawed. Unions were set up (in theory) to use collective bargaining to share a portion of the profits the company enjoys due to the hard work of its employees. The government has no profits. The employees do not add to any profits, just the red ink. The only way government can give in to union demands is by extorting money from its citizens. (Extort: to obtain from by coercion or intimidation.)

      Therefore, no profits, no union. That should be the law.

    14. Marty Sorensen, Colo says:

      Unions are no longer needed. Their usefulness no longer exists.

    15. sofiagonzelez, Texas says:


    16. ash/georgia says:

      The union's days of importance are over. All they are now are cash cows for union officers and political candidates. Money flushed down the toilet is right. Unions are one of the biggest problems in this country!

    17. Shelby Stastny, Orem says:

      There is no such thing as "collective bargaining" in the public sector. Only one side is playing with their own money!

    18. Patti, Las Vegas says:

      Thank you Heritage! Someone is finally telling like it is–that it's taxpayers' dollars being spent by the unions to support their choices of political candidates. This feels illegal to me. I wonder if the Hatch Act should apply to these activities.

    19. C. Hyatt, Albuquerqu says:

      Yep, the corruption is getting pretty old. We the People of the United States have about given up all of our liberty and freedom to money stealing politicans who accomodate the theft from additional other entities, like unions. Tax payers, the mules of the system, should expect that politicans are not going to give up thier wealth in life easily. However, many of them can be put to pasture with a simple vote. If you want real change, enact term limits every time a Federal election takes place. That is the only way to stop the self serving interests of politicans, unions and other special interest. The longer one of these theives stay in office, the more likely they are to pass legislation that improves thier lives, not yours.

    20. Sue From Detroit says:

      Great Article. Funny when the Supreme Court ruled that a private business has its first right amendment to support a policy or political person they want, the Liberals went nuts. Your article just stated all the tax payers money (without consulting the tax payers) the unions spend on ads to back their political guy. What one side can do, the other side should be able to do also. Finally, the playing field may become level and the Liberals or Progressives hate it. To Bad.

    21. Fred Roth Thousand O says:

      This is nothing new about AFT or any teachers union. It just took govt this long to figure it out. I went through this in the 70's when the unions were first started by the overwhelming number of liberal teachers. I was one of the teachers that refused to pay and first tried to start my own opposing group and later joined an opposing group. All that accomplished was to cost me double as even then we were forced to pay the 85%. When push came to shove, their backing of the teachers wasn't worth a 2 cents either, especially if it was to cost the union any money so many hundreds in LAUSD lost their jobs because of forced teacher integration in the early 80's. I was vocal against black and Chicano caucuses being allowed and funded by the Union, without also allowing an equally ridiculous white caucus. They said the "union" was the white caucus. Ya right!!! The conservative teacher at that time were definitely in the minority and its gotten much worse from what I have seen and heard since the instigation of unions. Life inside LAUSD is pure chaos now to the point the whole Los Angeles district needs to be disbanded.


    22. Sue Marie, Detroit says:

      Great Article. Glad to read that the union's influence is starting to crack. The tax payer is seeing where their personal income is wasted by unions and government and they are sick of it and are starting to rebel. Thanks to the Heritage Foundation and other conservative

    23. Margaret, St. Louis says:

      All of you are right. The unions have run their course and need to be outlawed. It is my opinion that unions are one of the main reasons our country is in the shape it's in today. Almost guaranteed jobs, big wages, pensions promised that they cannot fulfill (ponzi scheme anyone?), forced membership, etc. Let them all go away, especially in the public sector. Our country can save a lot of money that way!

    24. Gary Erickson says:

      I like the article about the unions now more than 50% government! Just a correctionto the Eagle song

      'We are programmed to receive.

      You can check-out (not in) any time you like,

      But you can never leave!'

    25. Wayne, La says:

      Unions offer protective havens to members. They also provide the umbrella that protects apathetic and none productive workers. The requirement that none union workers pay the union for not being part of a union is tantamount to extortion.

    26. Alan, San Diego says:

      Unions, like all parasites, will eventuaklly destroy their host. The government-employee unions are about to bancrupt most local and state governments by their demands for excessive pay and benefits. Two prime examples:

      The City of San Diego employee unions negotiated a "DROP" program, whereby a city employee announces he/she is going to retire in 5 years. For the next 5 years, the city puts an amount equal to that person's pay into a separate savings account. Essentially, that employee is paid at double-time for 5 years! And those funds earn a negotiated 8%. So, instead of a gold watch, some city employees get a million dollar check when they retire.

      The average federal worker makes over $100,000 a year and retiires at full salary, more than double the private sector. State government workers make about 20% more than their private sector counterparts.

      Three things need to happen: The voters must demand that government employees either give up belonging to unions or they give up all of the rights they have been granted under the civil service laws, such as they can't be fired. They d not need both protections. Secondly, government employees should be banned from contributing to PACs. Lastly, governent employee unions, especially SEIU, NEA and AFT, who spend most of their resources politically, should lose their tax-exampt status.

    27. Mike Sheahen, North says:

      Both "private sector" union and government (a.k.a. "public") union support of Statist politicians (in more than one party) who show and prove how, as Alexis De Toqueville said, "The American Republic will succeed until the politicians realize they can bribe the people with their own money", and the growing of government/public unions whether "private sector" unions grow or not, is all a part of what?

      It is all a part of both the Statist/Marxist belief that entering and being in government and government service ennobles, elevates, and entitles to be regarded above the fallibility to which the people (and our private businesses) supposedly remain liable to act on (and so supposedly cannot be trusted to govern themselves), and straight out of such Statist/Leftist things as not only Karl Marx’s writings but also (but not limited to) Saul Alinsky's "Rules For Radicals" which included his Statist/Leftist call to act as if “the ends justifies the means” (meaning “there is no right or wrong as long as the ends are accomplished”), and Cloward and Piven's Statist/Leftist prescription which included their call to "overload the system" to collapse it and replace it with a Statist/Leftist system being simultaneously promoted as if individual freedom and free enterprise failed.

      Now does it all sound familiar? It should, because, after all, such are among the schemes, antics, and machinations to rule of all government elitists and statists of all sorts throughout history, including kings, Marxist Communists and Socialists of all types (including Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, et al) and others to this day, which evidently enough also include such so-called "Progressives"/"Leftists" and other Statists as Obama, his accomplices, and others at all levels who in any way share any of their Statist attitudes and beliefs.

    28. Timpclimber Provo, U says:

      For too many years I was forced to be part of the national, state and local teacher unions. Why? Because like many states they have the exclusive right to negotiate for my contract, so if I wanted any input into my salary and benefits I had to belong to the union. Did they ever really put the benefit of students or teachers first? No, it was always to make sure the union got its money. For example, teachers who are union officials got their substitutes and salary paid by the district when going to union meetings during school time. Why didn't the union pay for their time? I always had to pay for my own time, lodging, transportation when taking the state and district required classes to keep my credentials current. You get the picture–union dues pay for union employees, lobbying, etc. but little to advance the teaching of children.

    29. Tony Rasavage, DuBoi says:

      I think it is time for the people to look for candidates that will stop the union shop in our government organizations, federal and state. We must stop the unions from using union dues that reduce the emplyees pay checks, to serve individual union leaders agendas without consent of the employees. Stop the union shop in our governments.

    30. Pingback: Morning Bell: Unions Just Flushed $5 Million of Your Tax Dollars Down the Toilet | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

    31. Mike, North Carolina says:

      Both "private sector" union and government (a.k.a. "public") union support of Statist politicians (in more than one party) who show and prove how, as Alexis De Toqueville said, "The American Republic will succeed until the politicians realize they can bribe the people with their own money", and the growing of government/public unions whether "private sector" unions grow or not, is all a part of what?

      It is all a part of both the Statist/Marxist belief that entering and being in government and government service ennobles, elevates, and entitles to be regarded above the fallibility to which the people (and our private businesses) supposedly remain liable to act on (and so supposedly cannot be trusted to govern themselves), and straight out of such Statist/Leftist things as not only the writings of Karl Marx but also (but not limited to) Saul Alinsky's "Rules For Radicals" which included his Statist/Leftist call to act as if “the ends justifies the means” (meaning “there is no right or wrong as long as the ends are accomplished”), and Cloward and Piven's Statist/Leftist prescription which included their call to "overload the system" to collapse it, with “entitlements” (welfare and [private] unemployment roles, etc, etc, etc.), and replace it with a Statist/Leftist system being simultaneously promoted as if individual freedom and free enterprise failed.

      Now does it all sound familiar? It should all sound familiar, because not only are we now witnessing the actual results of such Statist/Leftist schemes, antics, and machinations to rule, in the protests and other consequences in Greece and other nations around the world, including already here the U.S., but , after all, such schemes, antics, and machinations are the trademark of government elitists and statists of all sorts throughout history, including kings, Marxist Communists and Socialists of all types to this day, which also includes Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and such so-called "Progressives"/"Leftists" as Obama, his accomplices, and others at all levels who show how they are more concerned about their getting and growing government power than anybody and anything else.

    32. Ken Jarvis - Las Veg says:


      THAT way no $$$ is WASTED.

    33. Blair, Franconia, NH says:

      Unions are corrupt, irrelevant, and highly overrated.

    34. Norm Klevens says:

      Trumpca and the others need more money to pay for health care until obamacare takes old. 100 million dollars waiting to get spent between now and November. Where does it come from ? The unions bought and paid for obama. As the obama administration continues its destructive policies, unions and obama will chase companies overseas and the jerks in power will complain that its happening. The Box here in CA has started whining that the new CA senate candidate has done this. The Box and and obama's czars have never left the university classroom. Carly Fiorina has hired and fired employees and started operations overseas because the types of policies are a dissentive to hiring in the USA. Whitman did the same thing – real life experience matters. Now tax increases, health insurance, pay and salary restrictions and the stupid attitude will chase more. And the fallacy that unions increase safety on the job is also false. Fed OSHA and state OSHA as well as insurance companies increase safety. You union members just hold your wallet open; your unions are saying Trick or Treat.

    35. ron Derry NH says:

      To unionize government workers is a conflict of interest they are already organized as the government. They are playing good cop bad cop and fooling the tax payers into an ever increasing debt that is as close to racketeering as one can get. No competition and no market pressures.

      It should be criminalized as it is nothing short of bait and switch to be a conglomerate with no competition and be able to price fix your incomes by using a voting blocks money for a collective purpose self gratification and election coercion.

      Communistic thinking at its best using the three Cs, corruption, coercion and collusion to get a fixed result.

    36. Jack, DE says:

      These union thugs pull the same thing with employees of the State of DE. AFSCME union people go into different agencies, pass out all kinds of BS, and then, demand employees vote on whether they want a union or not. If the vote is 51% or more, they're in. You can choose not to join, but you still have to pay 80% of the cost of the dues to not be in. Thuggery at its best.

    37. Al Duhan New Milford says:

      Do you believe that Obama is worried about bankrupting America. He just wanted 1 term to do this then he will take hiss millions of dollars, his family and friends to Kenya. This is after he fluoresces the Kenya banks with our tax dollars. He never has to work again no mater what he does. We know that he will never stop lying. Al

    38. Craig Sacramento ca says:

      Five million? That is petty cash compared to the money the unions here in California flush down the toilet! The unions here have an enormous presence in running the schools, incidentally our school system is about the worst in the entire nation. Our two most noteworthy cities, San Francisco and Los Angeles are totally corrupt and both are on the verge of total fiscal collapse and they are also in the stranglehold of the big unions! Unions were good at one time, however sadly to say that time is long past!

    39. HawkWatcher,Mi. says:

      I've never understood why a person would want to put a third party in between himself and his employer. The Teamsters destroyed a company I once worked for by backing up greedy drivers who would not concede in order to compete with non-union competition. Result: company went out of business and greedy drivers were jobless. The Teamsters are still in business, and no union boss lost their job.

      Just like GM and Chrysler, public unions and greedy workers will contribute to bankrupting the country. I support efforts to rid the government of all unions.

    40. Ed Cage - Plano TX says:

      Is anyone aware it is *illegal* to use public funds (As Obama is doing) to promote his unpopular Obamacare plan? His purpose is to take some heat off of the many Dems who are in trouble in the mid term elections because they voted for the Obama/Pelosi/Reid highly unpopular healtcare plan.

    41. Jack NC says:

      The next time we hear from the President it will be the "State of the UnionS" address.

      It is obvious unions, monied socialists and communists put him in power to do their bidding. Everyone else in America will be serfs if this regime is allowed to proceed.

      This is "shake down" on a national scale and distruction of America is all this regime knows and all that interest it

      We must no longer be under the US Constitution or these Progressive wanna be dictators would have been ran out of town long ago!

      The useful idiots among us has hired the robbers to guard the bank.

      We now prey for change.

    42. Scott, Montana says:

      If we ever plan on getting this country back on track, we need to break the backs of the "Umbrella" Unions like the SEIU. While I do believe that small, local unions have their purposes; huge, national (and sometimes trans-national) unions are nothing but defacto political entities that serve no other purpose then thier own growth and self interests. The SEIU serves no other purpose then to force other unions to strike in support of unions that 'they' tell to strike as a 'barganing' tool. That's not bargaining, that's blackmail. I remember when that was against the law, but evidently the Unions have gotten so big that they're above the law.

      It's time that we, the working public, for our own survival, break the Union stranglehold on this country, and get back to doing what we do best. Creating a better future for our children and the world.

    43. Markalleus, Monroe, says:

      The right to work is fundamental. If you live in a state that you have to be "union" to work, then you may as well move to russia. I know it is hard to change but if you don't, then your kids and grand kids will have to pay some union lacky just to feed themselves. Move to a right to work state or overthrow the union mob and stop letting your over charismatic "leaders" plan your usage and demise. We don't need a union, of any kind, telling us what we can do for a living. I have worked with union hands, although the older ones know their stuff, it is like getting fat man in a relay race, very counter productive.

    44. Sandra, San Antonio says:

      Yea, and they will be coming to the Obama trougth to ask for a bailout for their retirement fund. Perhaps if they were to manage their finances better than blowing money on campaign contributions, their retirement fund wouldn't be in financial trouble.

    45. Arty, Providence, RI says:

      Since government is a monopoly, the very idea of allowing its workers to unionize (and raise money from themselves to vote in government politicians) is antithetical to American democracy.

      It becomes a case of the The State working and promoting itself for its own interest

      Private unions are legitimate, but government unions are not and should be abolished.


    46. Bob, Marietta, Ga. says:

      We need to pass legislation to outlaw public sector unions. Ronald Reagan's

      firing of the FAA controllers after they struck, was the best thing that the

      government has done to control cost and insure that the government stays

      under control of the people.

    47. James, DC says:

      I don't see where you get off saying that it's "your tax dollars" that are being wasted here. Is it "our tax dollars" being wasted when a public school teacher goes out and spends a whole bunch of money on something they don't need?

      No, it's their money – not the taxpayer's – once it's in their paychecks, and they, like any other private citizen, are free to do with it as they please. The taxpayer has no more right to tell public sector employees what to do with the money they're paid than I, as a customer of Best Buy, have to tell the guy who rings up my new iPod that he's only allowed to spend his paycheck on food and clothing.

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    50. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      What can I say? Yes, they did.

    51. Dexter60, San Franci says:

      The situation we find ourselvess in is well described, most people will be able to see this as another way that corrupt governance is self-serving to the point even of collapse. But the one point not heard here is that in common law, as a rule for good government as well, is that peson A and person B cannot form a binding contract that obligates person C for anything without his full consent — if left out of the contract except as being obligated, the contract may not be enforced by any lawful means. It means that Joe and Sam cannot just agree between themselves that they and not you own your property.

      Public sector unions are a fraud and part of a criminal enterprise — we do not need concurrance by the supreme court to strike such unions down: we need the response of our elected representative and appointees that have sworn to uphold the Constitution to do their job (or be removed by any means necssary).

      Congress itself is the first 'union' that needs our full attention, for one thing: representatives cannot justify a seniority system nor 'vote' themselves a raise.

    52. Pingback: Thuggish teachers’ unions and your tax dollars « Clear Thinking

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