Just How Low Cost Is Labor Reform?
If you’ve been following our work, you know that once a government union comes to power, it can stay in power for an indefinite length of time. Public employees, such as teachers and firefighters, are trapped by labor laws that give a union tremendous power after a one-man, one-vote, one-time election. In our newest study, The Low Cost of Labor Reform, we show how Missouri can provide public employees the ability to replace or retain their union every few years with union elections.
So how low cost are union elections? If the state contracts out with a company that specializes in providing elections, the price tag could be less than 1% of union dues.
When Wisconsin contracted with the American Arbitration Association (AAA) to provide union elections for its public employees, the cost was about $1.50 per voter per election. AAA is a well respected arbitration firm, but there are other options. For example, a service called “Election Buddy” by Event IQ, Inc., conducts elections for Harvard and Yale Universities and thousands of other companies internationally for approximately 9 cents per voter. $0.09 to $1.50 is a wide range, but even at the top end of that range, elections are inexpensive.
For comparison purposes, consider the dues charged to state employees by some of the major government unions. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) charges Missouri state employees $16.93 per pay period, or $406.32 per year. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) charges patient care professional employees $22.50 per pay period, or $540 per year. Even if the state contracts with a more expensive arbitration firm, rather than a relatively less costly corporate election firm, and ends up charging each union around $1.50 per voter, with an election every two years that’s less than two dollars out of the $812.64 AFSMCE collects per person during that period or the $1,080.00 SEIU collects.
Contracting out for union election is just one way of saving money. By contracting out for elections, the state will not need to hire additional staff, pay for increased travel expenses for staff conducting elections, or purchase new voting equipment. The savings will allow the state to charge a much lower fee to unions for conducting these elections, saving public employees money.