If Union Bosses Now Admit They Have Represented Workers Poorly, Why Should Federal Policy Continue Forcing Workers to Pay Union Dues?

Unions, the reliable Democratic supporters, split from president on …

After enthusiastically spending workers’ forced dues and fees to support Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012, the roofers union hierarchy now admits that the Obama Administration’s signal legislative achievement will force many rank-and-file members of their union out of health-insurance plans they are happy with. Photo: Sam Hodgson/Bloomberg

Multiple media reports over the past few weeks, including the Fox News item linked above, discuss the “surprising” development that Big Labor, which collectively spent hundreds of millions of dollars in 2008 and 2012, mostly forced dues-funded union treasury money, to get Barack Obama elected and reelected President, is now increasingly dubious about the Obama Administration’s signal legislative achievement, the so-called Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010.

The Fox News account explains:

Union leaders argue insurance costs for millions of workers will increase under the president’s health-care plan so they might have to drop their existing plan, despite Obama promising the opposite.

Their primary concern is the multi-employer or so-called Taft-Hartley plans that cover unionized workers in retail, construction, transportation and other industries that frequently use seasonal and temporary employment.

The union leaders say the roughly 20 million people covered by the plans will likely have higher premiums  [as a consequence of the ACA] . . . .

A number of union bosses are now openly expressing their fear that, rather than try to deal with the higher costs brought about by the ACA, otherwise known as ObamaCare, many unionized employers will stop offering health insurance coverage or reduce the number of employees who receive it by switching positions from full-time to part time.

Among the most outspoken born-again ACA opponents in union officialdom is Kinsey Robinson, president of the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers.  Fox News quotes a public statement he made last month:

“In the rush to achieve its passage, many of the act’s provisions were not fully conceived, resulting in unintended consequences that are inconsistent with the promise that those who were satisfied with their employer-sponsored coverage could keep it. . . . I am therefore calling for repeal or complete reform of the Affordable Care Act.â€

Previously, the roofers union hierarchy enthusiastically backed the election of Barack Obama as President in 2008, lobbied in support of the ACA, and supported the Obama/Biden ticket again in 2012.

The “man bites dog” story of union bosses like Robinson turning on ObamaCare is interesting, but so far media accounts are ignoring one important angle.

The two pillars of federal labor law, the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) as amended in 1947 and the Railway Labor Act (RLA) as amended in 1951, explicitly authorize union officials, acting with employers’ acquiescence, to compel unionized employees to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment.  Even employees who would never voluntarily join the union wielding “exclusive” bargaining power at their workplace are forced to fork over union dues or fees, or be fired.  Labor laws covering state and local public employees in nearly two dozen states that are patterned after the NLRA also authorize and promote compulsory union dues and fees.

The public rationale (or, more likely, rationalization) for forced financial support for unions is that union officials allegedly act in the interest of all employees.  However, in 2013 Robinson and a number of other union bigwigs like Joe Hansen of the United Food and Commercial Workers, Jim Hoffa of the Teamsters, and Donald “D” Taylor of UNITE are effectively admitting that, for several years at least, they and their cohorts have been acting contrary to the interests of the workers they purport to represent on matters concerning ObamaCare.

If a number of high-ranking union bosses now tacitly admit they have long represented workers poorly on a critical issue concerning their future health benefits, why should federal policy continue forcing workers to pay union dues as a job condition?