Government Union Boss Apparently Equates Valuing Work with Taxpayer Shakedowns

On the heels of the worst jobs report in over a year, Watchdog.org’s Jason Hart reports that Americans “are footing the bill for six-figure government union pay.” As Hart explains:

Taxes siphoned by American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees let the union pay its staff and officers an average of $103,623 last year. ...

While private-sector union spending can harm workers, employers and hit customers with higher costs, taxpayers throughout the country are stuck with the tab for spending by AFSCME and other public-sector labor unions.

AFSCME deducts dues from members’ taxpayer-funded paychecks. In 21 states and Washington, D.C., AFSCME and its affiliates can take hundreds of dollars per year in mandatory “agency fees” from nonmembers.

As of Dec. 31, AFSCME had 1,337,126 members and 125,255 forced agency-fee payers, based on the labor union’s annual report to the Department of Labor. AFSCME’s Washington, D.C., headquarters collected $178,668,843 from its state and local affiliates.

In 2014, AFSCME headquarters paid 566 officers and employees an average of $103,623. In addition to the 10 officers and employees paid more than $250,000 each, 16 were paid between $200,000 and $250,000 and 60 were paid between $150,000 and $200,000

AFSCME President Lee Saunders was paid $348,745 last year, and last month issued a statement calling for bigger government.

With an $18 trillion debt (at last count) subsidizing government union bosses is the last thing we can afford to be doing. But there may be light at the end of the tunnel, according to Hart:

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, expected as soon as next year, potentially could end mandatory union dues for government employees nationwide.

Unfortunately, as Hart concludes:

Even if workers are given the ability to opt out of paying AFSCME — as thousands in Wisconsin and Michigan have done under reforms passed in 2011 and 2012, respectively — taxpayers still will be indirectly funding the union through payroll dues deduction from remaining members.

With tax season upon us, it’s worth keeping this in mind—especially since it now takes 114 days to reach Tax Freedom Day, which the Tax Foundation defines as the day “when the nation as a whole has earned enough money to pay its total tax bill for the year.”

Valuing “work,” as Saunders puts it, should not mean shaking down taxpayers.

Vicki E. Alger is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and Senior Fellow and Director of the Women for School Choice Project at the Independent Women’s Forum. She is the author of the Independent book, Failure: The Federal Misedukation of America’s Children.
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