Illinois Makes Union Fees Voluntary for Government Workers
Yesterday, the governor of Illinois signed an executive order making union fees voluntary for government employees. Government unions are likely to challenge the order, but it is a significant gain for workers who do not want to pay for representation by an association to which they do not belong.
Why doesn’t Missouri follow suit? In our state, government workers, such as police and firefighters, are often required to pay for union activity, whether or not they want to be a member of a union. Many police and firefighters in this situation gladly accept representation by their union and would be happy to pay voluntarily. However, the government should not force workers to pay for services they don’t want.
Sometimes workers end up paying for two unions at the same time. In Saint Louis, the St. Louis Police Officers Association (SLPOA) has mostly represented white police officers, while the Ethical Society of Police has historically acted for African-American police. Recently, SLPOA won a union contract that allowed it to force payments from all rank-and-file officers. This action forced members of the Ethical Society to choose between leaving the employee association that they wanted to represent them or paying dues to two unions at once.
Illinois’ new order is a serious gain for liberty. Missouri could enact similar reforms. Indeed, doing so would protect the rights of police and firefighters who do not want to be forced into paying for the services of a group that they haven’t voted for and don’t want as representatives. For those government workers who protect us, it’s the least we can do.