Grocery Union Bosses Force Members and Nonmembers Alike to Pay For Mendacious and Cynical TV Ads

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Back in 2010, Pennsylvanians who are fed up with the inordinate power wielded by Big Labor over their state’s economy and government  elected a GOP governor and gave the same party control over both chambers of the General Assembly in Harrisburg.  At the time, they hoped newly elected Gov. Tom Corbett and his allies in the state Senate and House would roll back union bosses’ special privileges.

So far, those hopes have been disappointed.  Corbett has publicly sought to discourage legislators from considering either Right to Work legislation or abolition or even narrowing of the scope of union monopoly bargaining in the government sector.

One small area in which Corbett has tried to disrupt the Big Labor-friendly, anti-consumer and anti-taxpayer status quo is his consistent support for ending the state monopoly over liquor and wine sales.  In practice, this monopoly represents a guaranteed source of unionized jobs and forced union dues and fees for United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union bosses.  And the UFCW and its allies in union officialdom represent the only significant opposition to the Corbett-backed reform of how liquor is sold in Pennsylvania.

But so far, UFCW kingpins and their cynical and deceitful ad campaigns against liquor store privatization have proven to be more than a match for Corbett and company.  And a story for National Review this week (see the link below), Sarah Leitner reports that state records recently made public show that in 2013 union bosses used the forced fees of objecting nonmembers as well as members’ forced dues to finance their intensely political fight to preserve the government’s monopoly over sales of wine and spirits:

Media outlets in Pennsylvania and across the nation have called [the UFCW] ads “almost comical,” “hilariously bad,” and “stomach-turning.” But what’s even more embarrassing — and concerning — is that the UFCW listed its ridiculous 2013 ad campaign under “representational activities” rather than “political activities and lobbying” on federal disclosure forms.

The U.S. Department of Labor defines “representational activities” as “the negotiation of collective bargaining agreements and the administration and enforcement of the agreements made by the labor organization,” along with contesting elections for representation or decertification and recruiting new members.

This misrepresentation might not seem like a big deal, but it stretches the law — and workers’ rights — to the breaking point. A California union got in trouble for doing the same thing a few years ago. What’s the problem? Labor unions can charge both members and non-members for “representational activities,” but they cannot legally charge non-members for “political activities and lobbying.”

Because Pennsylvania is not a right-to-work state, public-sector employees in a unionized workforce can be required to pay for the union’s collective-bargaining costs regardless of whether they want to join the union. But when a worker opts out of a union, he or she does not have to pay the portion of union dues that goes to politics. Most non-members pay 60 to 70 percent of what union members pay. Because of UFCW’s duplicity, however, even workers who have refused to join the union and do not want to fund UFCW’s political activities are still paying for these ridiculous ads.

Pennsylvania grocery union czar Wendell Young and his lieutenants have poured more than a million dollars, mostly forced union dues and fees, into blatantly deceitful ads aimed at maintaining Big Labor’s “ironclad monopoly” over alcohol sales in the Keystone State.  Image: WCAU-NBC 10 (Philadelphia)

Unions versus Drinkers in Pennsylvania