It takes Crossroads GPS a little while to get to the point, at least for a TV spot, but they do save the best for last. The run-up is a defense of Wisconsin Republicans who decided to take on the public-employee unions and stick to their positions after their Democratic opponents ran out of town rather than lose a vote in the legislature, which puts the issue of PEUs in the perspective of budgets and fiscal control. But it’s the speech at the end that makes clear how PEUs leverage the power of the state to allow unions to raid taxpayer wallets:
NEA general counsel Bob Chanin explained it well in July 2009:
It is not because we care about children, and it is not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child. NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have power. And we have power because there are more than 3.2 million people who are willing to pay us hundreds of millions of dollars in dues …”
Willing? Dues payments aren’t voluntary in most instances. They get taken from the paychecks of teachers whether they support the NEA or not. The reason those dues get taken from checks is that the NEA and other PEUs have used their political muscle in states like Wisconsin to enforce closed-shop rules and mandatory dues payments. They need those rules to keep the dollars flowing, not because their members are willing to pony up dues, but because so many public employees aren’t willing to pay them. Otherwise, the unions wouldn’t need the state to be their collection agents. In Indiana, for instance, Mitch Daniels made dues payments voluntary — and 95% of their state workers don’t pay dues as a result.
Willing, indeed. If Chanin wants to put his claim to the test, then he should be backing Scott Walker’s open-shop rules in Wisconsin. We’ll see how many public employees are “willing” to pay dues — and how many had those dues strongarmed out of them over the years.