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  • Michigan Unions' "Freeloader" Myth

    Right-to-work laws represent “the freedom to freeload,” conservative commentator Steven Crowder was told by a union protester outside the Michigan state capitol shortly before another protester punched him in the face.

    The gripe is a common one: If workers are free to choose whether or not they wish to join a union, Big Labor claims, they can still enjoy the benefits of collective bargaining without footing the bill.

    The problem with that complaint: It’s simply untrue. Under the National Labor Relations Act, unions are free to represent all employees – not just union members – at the bargaining table. But they are not required to do so.

    “The National Labor Relations Act does not mandate unions exclusively represent all employees, but permits them to electively do so,” explained Heritage’s James Sherk in a Monday column. ”Under the Act, unions can also negotiate ‘members-only’ contracts that only cover dues-paying members. They do not have to represent other employees.”

    Moreover, the free-rider argument implies that workers’ union dues would go at least predominately toward activities that achieve better compensation or other workplace benefits. But neither is that the case.

    In fact, less than a quarter (24.1 percent) of expenditures by Michigan’s 25 largest private sector (or public/private hybrid) union locals go toward actually representing workers, according to those unions’ latest LM-2 filings (obtained via the Labor Department’s website - see spreadsheet below for a more detailed breakdown). The rest goes toward other expenditures, including benefits, political activity, and general overhead.

    Posted in Featured, Scribe [slideshow_deploy]

    40 Responses to Michigan Unions' "Freeloader" Myth

    1. USAF_Vet says:

      Federal unions are required to represent workers whether or not the worker pays dues – Such as the 'Representation' is – which is very close to worthless!

      • Roger King says:

        In my view Unions shouldn't be allowed in the government anyway. It's a whole different animal there since politicians just pay them with other peoples money and since there is no competition to keep the money given unions in check they become overpaid at the tax payers expense.

        • In the 1940s, even the pillar of big government, FDR, cautioned against public employees unionizing. He feared that eventually the workers would become more concerned with themselves and their union than with the people they were hired to serve and are paying them. Here we are. Look at what happened in Wisconsin and Chicago. We ignore history at our peril.

        • jmvhvi says:

          Exactly. Well said. Unions of any kind can become corrupt, but private ones have a chance of NOT being, since they are at least negotiating with management over profits from their own work. Not so with government unions – the "management" are elected officials handing over money and benefits that come from taxes, not profits. It is easy to be generous with money that is not your own, and the more you raise salaries for government employees, the more likely they and their unions will help you get re-elected. Where is the defense of the taxpayer?

        • muskegonlibertarian says:

          Even FDR was opposed to unionized government employees.

        • John Stewart says:

          The only reason the government has unions is because JFK saw that as the way to pick up and maintain a high progressive vote. All that with two executive orders, no Congress involved. All it would take is a recinding of those two exe. orders.

        • John Stewart says:

          JFK's executive orders put the unions in government.

    2. Mike Bannan says:

      Wow Union folk must be pissed at this data!

      • Steven says:

        This ISN'T news to anyone that cares. Those that didn't already want out of the unions probably don't believe it.

    3. During the time Indiana was going through getting RTW laws passed I was telling people this exact thing. The main reason that Unions choose to include all employees in collective bargaining is because of their seniority system that bases advancement/promotion on seniority instead of merit. It is the Union's choice to represent all employees.

      • ufosrreal says:

        Additionally, a union could not get agreement for raises for union members that would exclude non-union members — creating two different pay scales for employees doing the same work. It stands to reason that a union has to represent non-union employees regardless of whether the employees want to be represented. Union leadership uses this to rationalize the laws requiring non-union employees to pay union dues. Politicians (democraps) are only too glad to pass laws requiring non-union employees to pay dues, increasing the amount of money that will eventually find its way to their coffers as political contributions.

    4. Lloyd Scallan says:

      Do is not seem odd to anyone that leftist comes up with a "talking point" or slogan and within hours everyone on the left is parroting the same phrase, just as if it was printed somewhere? Well, guess what, it probably is and most likely on Move-On.org.

    5. Paul Terry Stone says:

      Who is freeloading? It looks like union management is.

    6. @Pablo_1791 says:

      President Obama told me it means the "right to work for less money."

      • Pax says:

        Not true. You always have the right to join the union, if union representation is in your specific workplace. If not, there are union shops down the street (Target stores are non union, Walmart is unionized, for example).

    7. Russell says:

      When the word "Freeloader" is used by the unions we must remember the 47% who " Freeloader" on the 53% who are footing the bill for them.
      If it is OK for the 47% to get all of the benefits without contributing then it is only fair for the folks who choose not to join the union to do so and get the same benefits.
      What goes around must come around.

    8. Jim says:

      Vince Beltrami,

      If it is impractical and chaotic to have a two tiered system where non union members directly negotiate with their employer separately from the union negotiation… how do the hundreds of thousands of non union businesses manage to negotiate with ALL of their employees individually? Have you ever worked a non union job in your life?

      • Roger King says:

        Always worked in a non union shop. Individuals negotiate with their employers with their feet. They are free to go to other jobs and companies must compete with salaries and benefits to get the best workers.

        It just isn't fair to force a worker to join a union and then force them to pay union dues. All this under the guise of fairness to the employee. Like the Michigan governor said, if unions give a benefit to the worker then they will join if they don't they won't.

    9. nybbler says:

      the dirty secret is that the unions will willingly continue to "represent" all workers because if they let the non-union workers negotiate for themselves they might end up with better pay and benefits and then what would be the point of anyone being in the union.

    10. Roger King says:

      There was a time unions were needed but that isn't the case in my opinion any longer. Once monopolies were broken up competition kept the worth of the employee vrs their compensation in check. Of course everyone would like to make more and be compensated more but in the end companies must compete with salaries and benefits to get the best employees. Employees on the other hand need to make their worth to the company as great as possible and then seek the best paying job for their worth.

      Sadly Union have become one sided in just demanding more but not working to make the company more profitable. Instead they segregate each job such they one worker can't help another because it isn't in their job description.

      • JON ANGELI says:


      • Larry N Stouffer says:

        Right on, Roger. Unions are pro-union, anti-American. But that aside, the biggest problem unions pose to free Americans wishing to be free to seek employment is MONOPOLY. Unions have a monopoly in forced unionism states. Monopolies are anti-American. Anyone in America should be free to compete for any job they desire. Period. We shouldn't have to be members of a club or organization or union to seek employment. And a little membership card that says you are a union member is false representation implying that because you have a little card verifies you are a superior worker.

    11. Bill says:

      Mr. King hits the nail on the head!!!!!!

    12. Mutantone says:

      it is the money they bring in that they want to keep coming in. Just look at the chart Total expenditures far exceeds the Representation expenditures so where does all that money go? Politicians to keep them in power so they can send more money supporting the Politicians as they have been a self perpetrating event. The Politicians keep them in power with their laws and the Unions keep them in power with their funds. Just look at the violence the “Right to Work” effort has reveled from the Unions to prevent it and Obama and the Police are doing nothing.

      • Chris says:

        obama is throwing gas on the fire with his lies, so it is untrue he is doing nothing and the police, well they are union so what would you expect.

    13. Kevin Brown says:

      The writer's inaccuracies are numerous., Most glaring is his claim that unions don't have to represent nonunion employees. In Michigan, they are required to represent all employees weather they pay dues or not. The union bashing from the Right is pitiful. Until unions came along, blue collar workers could never make enough to buy a house of put their kids through college. Only certain "privileged" classes had that honor.

      Employers pay nonunion workers better pay and benefits just to keep the unions out. Would you rather have children chained to machines? Would you rather have the return on sweatshops to the American economy? Would you rather have qualified and train construction personnel replaced by illegal aliens? Both Republicans and Democrats who are funded by trillionaires are trying to weaken the labor struggle either through legislation or rhetoric. Nobody's fooled. The anti-union propaganda is old and tired and people are seeing through it.

      • JD Right says:

        No, people are seeing through the union's ridiculous rhetoric. We have child labor laws and other laws which prohibit inhumane acts. Beyond that, a viable company wants to hire and keep good employees so the businesses can prosper. Ain't it funny about your alien comment? Libs are the ones wanting to open the gates to aliens and give them all a free ride. Get real.

      • Wumingren says:

        I wouldn't go after the corporation like you just did. This is the result of apathy on the part of the individual employees. If you want to blame anyone, blame the unions. The unions make work rules that define individual duties and responsibilities, and union members often treat anything that goes beyond the standard, no-hassle, minimum acceptable performance as something to vent their spleens about. Unions cultivate an atmosphere of "them against us" in an adversarial relationship, and they somehow think that expressing their displeasure with the company to the company's clients is going to earn them sympathy. They are dead wrong!

        Union members are always skulking about with a chip on their shoulders. Not only that, but the people who are just wastes of skin are often protected by the union, so the people that would slam a damaged human being down a narrow aisle with wild abandon will not be fired. No, no, no! Worse, there are a lot of union members who are on the opposite end of the political spectrum from the veteran. Such people have made themselves infamous by expressing their dislike for their perceived "enemies" in truly disgusting ways, from passive aggressive abuses to downright hostility. If you've ever wondered what might happen to your food at a fast food joint, you might want to consider what happens onboard airplanes with union workers.

        During the decades of the '70s and '80s, I flew all over Asia aboard Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, Korean Airlines, Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Philippine Airlines, and, my all time favorites, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways. Exceptional service always. Then, I flew home on Northwest (now Delta) during their troubled contract negotiations. The flight attendants, all of whom looked older than my grandmother (a huge shock compared to the flight attendants on Asian carriers), were surly and rude to all the passengers. I had never had to pay for a beverage before, so I was unprepared when the granny asked for $5 for a beer. I had only $100 bills on me. The granny glared at me, scrunched up her face, and shouted, "Oh, don't give me that!" She then snapped up the beer like an owl grabbing a mouse, but she forgot that she had already popped the top. Yikes! It sprayed all over the place.

      • Guest says:

        According to the 'logic' I've heard from union bosses each generation of Americans should have to re-fight the Revolutionary war, since we are 'freeloading' off those that fought that war for our freedom. Ditto for the civil war

    14. Fred says:

      Unions do have a place in protecting members jobs from unfair elimination. But unfortunately in the public sector they have become a roadblock to the elimination of dead beat workers, those who in private industry would be let go for poor performance. Just look at some teacher salaries compared to higher student standard test scores. Read about state workers who collect exorbitant paychecks and don't do alot of anything. I've seen non-union workers who do well based on performance not the union terror tactics…BS holding the public or students hostage to get what they want. I pay taxes and my pockets are only sooooo deep!

    15. pete says:

      The next category would be payments to the democratic party. Union workers are cows in the stall to be milked for as much as they can be milked by the union management. They only get 25% return on their investment. The unions are as efficient as the government. So this is how the unions are able to give hundreds of millions of dollars to the political campaigns to maintain the status quo. Remember that eventually that the cow goes to the slaughter house when they can no longer produce milk.

      • bear cub says:

        it seems it is your side that is falling apart. if so many agree with right wing why the need to suppress the vote? if so many agree with MI gov why the need to do this in lame duck without the public's consent? if you are correct why do you need to lie? the 25% is 1/4 of total expenditures, not total of dues – expenditures includes all income to unions which includes much more than just dues – and health care and pensions are benefits just like wage increases so it is 50% of total expenditures which includes the voluntary contributions members make to political action on top of dues – dues probably make up less than 1/2 expenditures as rep less than half of income – if I work two jobs and spend money from one job only on clothes, that does not mean that the money from my second income might not go to exactly what I tell someone that income goes to – DUH – you can't judge % from expenditures – you must judge it from DUES total – dues = what amount – and then take % of THAT income. otherwise you and guy who wrote this is just making stuff up to make you sound like an idiot. as to representation – a union works as a united front or it doesn't work – as all do same job, benefit on job WILL affect all – and there is no way to represent some and not all workers – it is non sensiccal. but if you are middle class you got weekends, and work hours, and all you got BECAUSE of unions – if your wages have declined they have declined because the only group that lobbies for your interests has diminished – the union is only thing keeping middle class from total poverty – wanna go back to 7 days a week work, no overtime, no minimum wage, child labor, discrimination and no medical? we are 1/2 way their already – hate the unions is hating yourself and utterly idiotic.

        • tindaro says:

          What the hell good is a union if there are no jobs to protect. They don't create jobs they destroy them.

        • Wumingren says:

          The UFCW negotiated a three-year contract for us that produced a 5¢ an hour raise. For those working 40-hour weeks, that amounted to an $8 a month raise. Then, after the union stooge took a bow for all his "hard work" getting us that raise, the next official communication from him was a slip of paper included in our next paycheck envelop; it said dues were going up $12 a month. Because of the union, we ended up losing $4 a month.

          You think I couldn't have earned more than a five-cent raise on my own merits? I believe I could have earned dollars, not cents, just by working productively, showing up on time, being courteous to the customers, and being willing to help the company make more profit than ever before. Instead, I was told by a union thug to stop working so hard as it made everybody else look bad. I was actually threatened by the union for doing a better job than those around me.

          There was a time when unions were good, but they aren't good any longer. They're in it for themselves and they couldn't care less about the worker. If they did care at all, they would help the workforce by not protecting the worthless wastes of skin that are toxic to the work environment. I've never worked in any environment that was as lousy as that created by the union. I enjoy working, but the union seems to want to maintain an unnecessary attitude of grievance.

          Take your union and shove it, buddy. I can do better on my own. I've always gotten well-deserved and significant raises everywhere I've ever worked, but the only insulting raise I ever got came with union "representation."

    16. pete says:

      How about a breakdown of how union dues are spent in support of politicians and parties.

    17. Erik Osbun says:

      Follow the money in detail with data on union expenditures presented in a spread sheet.

    18. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      Big Labor loves to think "right-to-work" means "right-to-shirk." That's what it's called right-to-work laws since at least the '70s.

    19. Mike Duvall says:

      Union people and their bosses know quite well that they have grown greedy and corrupt. They just believe they can continue to win through noise and violence and supporting the Democratic Party who panders to greed and corruption for personal gain the most, because they have been allowed to run untethered for so long with little or no resistance. Just childish (and now physically criminally violent) 3rd grade bullies now. A very troubling trend. We MUST put a tether on this abusive behavior, or keep setting bad examples for the children of the next generation.

    20. equity_guy says:

      A union should have a voice in the running of a company to the extent it purchases a controlling equity interest in it. With that kind of skin-in-the-game I'd bet the unon would sing a different tune.I also have to wonder, under this free-ridership arrangement, do the non-union workers get to keep their jobs when the union kills the company?

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