Teachers Unions

Mich. Unions to Ex-Members: How Dare You Leave, Freeloaders


Freddie the Freeloader
Wikimedia Commons

Michigan lawmakers are considering bills that would make it illegal for union officials to release the names of members who left under the state's Right to Work law. Republican Rep. Kevin Daley's bill has not yet been released, but according to The Lansing State Journal, it would allow both public and private employers to decide whether the unions representing their employees have the right to publish names of defectors.

Why is such legislation necessary? Well, ever since Right to Work gave employees the right to opt out, some unions have been publishing their names on public "freeloaders" lists. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy first reported that story last year; since then, the union that made the list has continued to lose members. Bullying ex-members who don't think the union was committed to their needs isn't the best way to win them back, it seems.

Nancy Strachan, vice president of the Michigan Education Association—the state's main teachers union—told WILX that her organization doesn't label ex-members as freeloaders. But as the Mackinac Center points out, her boss MEA President Steven Cook, used the term repeatedly in a warning to members.

According to Mackinac spokesperson Ted O'Neil:

Now that employees are not forced to financially support a union as a condition of employment, unions will have to realize that they need to convince members of their value, rather than attacking and bullying those who simply choose to exercise their rights under Michigan law.

As for Daley's bill to ban union bullying, it's tricky to separate the privacy concerns from the free speech issues at play—especially since the actual text of the bill isn't public yet. Private unions should be allowed to say whatever nasty things they want about ex-members, and private companies should be within their rights to retaliate. But public unions are a different matter, and it seems to me the legislature has the right to shut them up if it wants.


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  1. unions will have to realize that they need to convince members of their value, rather than attacking and bullying those who simply choose to exercise their rights

    But attacking and bullying is what we’re good at!

    1. ^^ this, totally

      As a “labor relations guy”, when push comes to shove, attack, bully and threaten is most unions’ jam.

      I will give the UAW credit – they’ve adapted a long way from this at the highest levels. However, some locals still think tire irons and nails in the salaried parking lot is the way to go.

      I’m enjoying their sad as we head into negotiations in 2015.

      Fuck ’em

    2. Technically, I would have thought it was incitement, not bullying.

  2. So. Delicious. Tears
    of Union clowns writhing in
    pain from defections

  3. “Freedom to freeload”. Are we reaching some sort of irony singularity?

  4. as an employer, I’d be willing to pay a non-union employee more since he doesn’t come with a tail coated with shit. how can an at will employee be a freeloader?

    1. Heh. As I’ve told the unions I work with more than once, “All you bring are more problems, more red tape, higher cost, and reduced efficiency. One hundred percent of the time. Every union. Ever.”

      Till they can actually offer something of value to an employer, they will just being a “necessary evil” in some companies.

      But, please, stop telling me about the value proposition to the employer. There is none. Only *maybe* to some employees. But never to the employer.

    2. I think they are objecting to “freeloader” employees who are part of the collective bargaining unit. The simple solution is, of course, to require “freeloaders” to bargain on their own with the employer. For some reason, this simple solution never gains traction with the unions.

      1. And wouldn’t the solution to that be for employers to offer better deals to non-union workers? I can’t imagine unions agreeing to anything that would potentially cost them even more members.

        1. If I remember correctly, in non-right to work states the union, by law, is the collective bargaining agent for even the workers who refuse to pay dues.

          1. Just to clarify the situation: Unions hold the exclusive right to bargain on behalf of the employee groups they represent. No one can opt out of that bargaining group, even in right to work states. Right to work also does not mean that employees don’t have to pay dues. non-member employees in the bargaining group have to pay dues associated with the bargaining activities. They do not, however, have to pay dues for non-bargaining activities of the union (i.e. lobbying, etc.)

            With that understanding, it is nearly impossible to understand how these union boss morons get away with calling non-members “freeloaders.” They pay (by force) dues to cover bargaining costs (from which bargaining they arguably benefit). They don’t pay dues for organizing/lobbying efforts that they choose not to support.

  5. Hey now. Leave Red out of this!

  6. Idea: Eliminate public unions. Too simple?

    1. They are only allowed at the federal level because of an executive order by JFK, so there’s a suggestion for President Scott Walker on day 1.

      1. President Scott Walker


      2. Public unions are mostly products of state law. States can revoke them at will — they just don’t have the will, not even in traditionally bright red states. It’s a weird phenomenon.

  7. especially since the actual text of the bill isn’t public yet

    PS So, once again, we have to pass it to find out what’s in it?

    1. What difference, at this point, does it make?

  8. these freeloaders are ruining our freeloading racket.

  9. On topic, this sounds like a terrible law. Yeah, they almost certainly want to intimidate people, but there are other ways to deal with it that don’t violate freedom of speech and association.

    1. This.

      We should not be countering bad behavior with even worse legislation.

  10. It’s long been established that the right to free speech is not absolute. In addition to falsely yelling “fire” in a theater, laws against harassment have stood the test of time in areas such as stalking, communicating threats, and bullying. In addition to such, courts have also many times speech that is intended to incite others to commit such acts are also illegal.

    There is also a difference between a private party and a public figure with regard to what the courts allow. People quitting a union are not public figures and are allowed much more protection in their private lives. Our private lives have a reasonable expectation of privacy, and it’s arguable that unions and companies that put out such lists occupy an unfair position with regard to having confidential information and therefore have a duty to protect it.

    I don’t see a single legal issue with regard to protecting these people who simply wish to make a decision they are legally allowed to make. And any union or company that puts their name out there does so with the full knowledge that they will likely be abused because of it. This wink and a nod that they innocently published information and are therefore not culpable in any abuse or interruption of life visited on such people shouldn’t even be heard.

    1. I don’t disagree that a ban on name disclosure might hold up in court, but I wouldn’t support it, either. If unions can’t wield their power with even a modicum of respect for former members’ privacy, then the appropriate remedy is to revoke state laws that allow for public unions.

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