Right To Work Group
Plans to Spend $1 Million to Fight AFL-CIO
By Jim Burns
CNSNews.com Senior Staff Writer
February 27, 2002
(CNSNews.com) - The National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation, reacting to an AFL-CIO decision to seek an increase in political contributions from union members, announced Wednesday it plans to spend one million dollars to represent workers who object to the idea.
"According to polls, most rank-and-file workers object to Big Labor's electioneering with their forced union dues. We intend to spend at least $1,000,000 to do everything possible through the courts and public information efforts to help workers reclaim their hard-earned money," said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right To Work Foundation.
During its meeting in New Orleans this week, the AFL-CIO executive council voted to ask the union's general board to raise members' voluntary political contributions, currently around 65 cents a month, by 4 cents a month, beginning in July. The board will take up the proposal when it meets in New York in May.
In defending the decision to seek more union dues for political purposes, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney blasted the Bush administration's policies.
"It has become painfully clear that even in a struggling economy, with high unemployment, working families are still not a priority for the Bush administration or the Republican Congress," Sweeney told the gathering in New Orleans.
Key issues that Sweeney and the union leadership plan to pursue include a minimum wage increase, the creation of jobs through investment of tax dollars in schools and public works projects, and greater efforts on worker education and job training.
The National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation says the union's actions are illegal and cites the 1988 U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case, "Communications Workers vs. Beck" as proof. The high court ruled that employees could not be compelled to formally join a union or pay dues spent for politics or other activities unrelated to collective bargaining.
Despite the Beck decision, "workers who have sought to exercise these rights, have been the victims of harassment and even violence," according to the foundation.
Gleason vowed that although under-financed, the foundation would find a way to compete with the AFL-CIO on the issue.
"Backed by the purely voluntary financial support of tens of thousands of Americans, the National Right to Work Foundation does not have Big Labor's resources. But we cannot allow union operatives to force America's working people to serve as political ATM machines," said Gleason.
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