In Utah, the legislature passed the “Voluntary Contribution Act” (VCA), a form of paycheck protection, in 2001. The law wasn’t implemented until a few years later, but when it was, voluntary contributions to union Political Action Committees (PAC) plummeted. In fact, some union PAC’s had to closer their doors.
Utah is one of the 22 Right to Work state where workers do not have to join or pay a union unless they want. In these states, unions are completely voluntary. But as you will see, workers still need their paychecks protected.
Before the VCA was implemented, 68 percent of the Utah Education Association’s members contributed to the union’s PAC. Remember, each contribution was from a member who voluntarily joined the union.
Yet the year the VCA was enacted, contributions to the UEA’s PAC dropped from 68 percent of members to almost 7 percent. Why? We can only assume that most teachers were unaware that they had a choice. They learned that they didn’t have to support the UEA officials’ political agenda if they didn’t want to.
The drop in voluntary contributions has significantly reduced the UEA’s ability to protect the status quo and fund its political agenda. The UEA was unable to stop the Utah Legislature from passing some school choice and voucher laws earlier this year, so the UEA put the laws on the ballot in the form of an initiative, hoping voters will reject them.
With its PAC funds significantly cut, though, union officials are struggling to fund the campaign. One way UEA officials have circumvented the dilemma, though, is by using public facilities and funds to underwrite their campaign.
The most recent example is the Salt Lake City School District’s latest newsletter. The newsletter’s focus is “choice” and the lead article argues that “Salt Lake City Schools Are ‘Your Best Choice
.’” While not overtly campaigning, the newsletter insinuates that the status quo, which is favored by the UEA, grants all the “choice” necessary for a quality education. This use of public mailing lists, printers, funds and other resources undermines the school choice and voucher laws and could be illegal.
While it is unfortunate that paycheck protection laws force union bosses to engage in illegal activity, they reveal them, and their morals, for who they are.
To read the article on the UEA’s schemes and listen to the news report, click here: District Newsletter Flirts with Vouchers and State Law