Geri’s Story: Holding Unions Accountable
Geri Thwing works as a school bus driver. She also pays for representation by a union that she feels doesn’t do a whole lot for her. Most of the time when you decide you don’t want or need a service you’re paying for, you can choose to stop paying and no longer receive that service. Geri doesn’t have that option—her union requires her to pay dues as a condition of employment.
Geri’s father and husband were both union members. And she was initially fine with joining. But now she wants out.
Geri’s situation is worsened by the fact that she has a moral objection to many of the activities of her union. Her union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, spends heavily on politics. According to the Washington Times, they spent $5.9 million on lobbying and campaign contributions in 2014 alone. “It breaks my heart,” she told me.
Geri called her local’s business agent to ask about the political spending. She says it didn’t help anything. I also called Geri’s local to ask about their stance on forcing people to join the union. I’m still waiting for a call back.
Thousands of Missourians are in Geri’s situation—forced to pay for a union’s services while skeptical that the union is actually doing anything for them. Giving workers the freedom to opt out of a union is one way to hold a union accountable. Giving workers a regular secret ballot vote on whether to keep their union is another way to make union executives listen to the concerns of the people they represent.
I had the opportunity to interview Geri; the video is available via the link above.