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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Indiana Imposes Tax on Workers Who Support Unions

Indiana Imposes Tax on Workers Who Support Unions

Thursday, 26 January 2012 06:03

The NYT reported that Indiana's legislature approved a measure that requires that the workers who support a union at the workplace pay for the representation of the workers who choose not to pay for the union's representation. It would have been helpful to remind readers that a union is legally obligated to represent all the workers in a bargaining unit, regardless of whether a worker has opted to join the union.

This means that non-members not only get the same wages and benefits that the union gets for its members, they also are entitled to the union's protection in the event of disputes with the employer. Most states allow workers to sign contracts that require non-union members to pay for the benefits they receive from the union.

The bill passed by Indiana's legislature prohibits unions and employers from signing this sort of contract. Instead, it requires unions to provide free representation to non-members.

Comments (11)Add Comment
Immoral Hazard of Unions Creates Death Spiral, Low-rated comment [Show]
written by Mike B., January 26, 2012 8:21
Florida has such a law, and my union had a 23% membership rate a year ago. But a legislator introduced a bill last year to decertify public sector unions with less than 50% membership. The bill didn't go anywhere, but the union used it to increase membership to 42%. So the effect of the bill (although clearly not the intent) was getting some of the free-riders into the union.
written by John MacLean, January 26, 2012 8:58
Izzatso, What's up with the "stupid liberal" stuff? I was taught that name calling had no place in learning, but that it did in public relations, formerly know as "the lies of bosses."

Also, who is talking about "free markets"? If you took your head out of your single seller "monopsony" you would see a government/corporate system of labor control that daily assails those who work. Nothing "free" about it. Polanyi even put labor among his fictional commodities; sadly, we weren't all born to be tools in your fantasy.

What I would be interested in is knowing more about is the development of the NLRA? Going back, union delegates collected dues face to face from members, and today there is a sense that unions could not exist without the current arrangements for dues collection. This, given the history of the labor movement, is obviously not true.

Joe Burns says, in his recent book, Reviving The Strike, that labor needs to find ways to break out of the system of control, and frames like this, though important, seem to only keep us imprisoned.

written by bill turner, January 26, 2012 9:01
conservatives screamed that the sanctity of contracts must be maintained during the collapse. for decades they have likewise shouted from the rooftops that the government must not interfere in the marketplace. what is "right to work" then?
writing for his funders, Low-rated comment [Show]
The Right not to Pay Union Days
written by Dean, January 26, 2012 11:33

you have an absolute right not to pay union dues. Just don't work at a place where the workers and employers have a contract that says all workers must pay for the representation they receive from the union. What's hard to understand about this?
restraint of trade
written by pete, January 26, 2012 11:39
contracts which restrain trade like that are pretty much illegal in other economic areas.
Restraint of trade?
written by Dean, January 26, 2012 1:12

i'm not following you. Companies place all sorts of restrictions on their workers, their franchisees, their contractors all the time. Why does it become a restraint on trade if it involves a union? Go work at a competitor if you don't like the policy. What's the problem?
or the unions can go to other states...
written by pete, January 26, 2012 3:36
If I hire 40 guys and 25 form a union, collect their dues, while 15 don't, you are telling me the 15 have to pay the 25 dues anyway, since the 25 are going to lobby on their behalf. Why would I not join the union under such conditions? Right...exactly. So, the "fee" is really just silly, it means you have to join the union (or might as well, you get to vote).

Nothing prevents the union from organizing, but if they don't get 100% then thats tough. True believers will pay, the others won't.

But this ignores the entire anachronism that are unions today. Very little in the way of 1 shop towns and so forth for which maybe unions offered some benefits (while decimating U.s. manufacturing). Instead we have mostly very fluid service jobs, interchangeable parts, bad conditions can send workers to better jobs easily. To me these final battles seem like rearranging the chairs on the Titanic. Move on.
Move on Indeed
written by Joe Emersberger, January 26, 2012 4:14
A typical company is a dictatorship. There is no more justification for dictatorships in workplaces than in governments. Out of necessity people submit to the illegitimate authority of bosses - and are told that the ability to walk out on one dictaor and find another is a great "freedom". Unions (and labor,safety, environental legislation) impose limits on the dictatorial powers of owners and managers. That is why unions are relentlessly attacked no matter how limited their aims.

Demanding that union achieve 100% consent is absurd, but especially when the demand is made from people who back owners and managers entitled to act with zero % consent.
written by PeonInChief, January 27, 2012 3:14
And unions were an anachronism in the 1920s too. So said the corporations.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.