(Mark Prather/The Press-Enterprise) – When you hear that “The Unions” are fighting mad and rallying for this cause or that, you should know that a huge percentage of the membership is being coerced.
Do you really believe that every union police officer, firefighter, nurse and teacher is happily singing from the same progressive hymnal? That they are all liberal Democrats, right down the line?
That’s what the unions want you to believe. Actually, to work in any of these professions in California and many other states, you are forced to join the union. And the unions give all their support to one party — the Democrats. And they don’t ask for input or approval from the substantial numbers of independents and Republicans in their ranks.
I don’t feel solidarity with the mobs that occupied the beautiful, historic capital building in Madison, Wisc., and did more than $6 million in damage to it. I don’t admire those teachers who abandoned their students, calling in “sick” using bogus doctor’s excuses.
You wouldn’t catch me marching shoulder-to-shoulder with groups like Freedom Road Socialist Organization and the communists of the Workers World Party, screaming obscenities and carrying posters depicting the governor with a Hitler mustache.
I’m not proud of my own state’s union, either. It takes my dues against my will and gives them to Democrat politicians who vote for legislation to which I am strongly opposed.
My union supports many candidates who have a radical environmental, Marxist worldview, and who value endangered animals more than unborn babies. Their answer to global climate change is to place the burden solely upon America and our way of life, declaring war on capitalism.
They oppose enforcing our borders and they support “sanctuary cities,” where police are forbidden to enforce the law. They are for big-government solutions to every problem and cradle-to-grave nanny-statism.
The teachers union spends millions of dollars of its members’ dues each year on issues like these that have nothing to do with teaching children. They employ an army of full-time political operatives, and the top union leaders make huge salaries.
In return for union largesse, liberal politicians turn out to be very agreeable partners in negotiations for salaries and benefits. When the politicians and unions agree on the latest round of lavish spending, they simply turn to a third party — the taxpayer — to foot the bill.
In blue states from Michigan to California, New York to Illinois, the story is repeated year after year. The unions have slowly but surely strangled the goose that lays the golden eggs.
Now the bill has come due. It seems that the notion that one can retire at 55 and draw a pension that is roughly the same amount as one’s salary in the last year of employment for the rest of one’s life may not be realistic.
Our friends and neighbors in the private sector, who don’t enjoy benefits nearly so generous, have decided that they can’t afford to pay for ours any longer.
I don’t know how many California public union employees, like me, have been supporting Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, but I bet it’s a lot. One of the modest proposals that Gov. Walker sought was a new understanding that the government not be allowed to forcibly collect union dues from unwilling members like me. What other organization can force American citizens to be members against their will? It’s outrageous and un-American.
Unions are terrified, and with good cause, that without coercive laws in place to confiscate dues, members will desert by the millions.
It’s time that the leftist union leaders hearken back to the wisdom of the famous proverb from their flower-child youth: If you love something set it free; if it returns to you, that’s groovy, if not it was never meant to be.
(Mark Prather is an elementary school teacher in the Corona-Norco Unified School District. He is a member of the California Teachers Association and the Corona-Norco Teachers Association. This article originally appeared in The Press-Enterprise on March 12, 2011. )