| June 13, 2012

State’s largest newspaper: ‘End automatic deductions for all public-sector unions’

While introducing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at an OCPA dinner on April 11, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin dubbed him “a profile in courage.”

She’s right, and Walker’s epic recall victory “should embolden policymakers in other states, including Oklahoma, who’ve been more timid than Walker,” The Oklahoman has rightly noted (‘Wisconsin voters appreciated governor’s political courage’). Added Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL), “Clearly, Mr. Walker’s victory will embolden other governors around the country to begin taking measures challenging public-sector unions.”

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, another OCPA dinner speaker, suggested this week that public-sector unions should be abolished altogether. Mark Costello, Oklahoma’s labor commissioner, has argued for “paycheck protection,” i.e., discontinuing the practice of having the government serve as the dues collector for Big Labor. This is a very good idea. As The Oklahoman points out (‘Voluntary dues lead to union woe’):

For years, public employee unions have depended on government to provide automatic payroll deductions for dues. So what happens when dues payment becomes voluntary? Membership plummets. The latest example comes from the Oklahoma Corrections Professionals Association, which has gone from about 1,900 members to the low hundreds. The group’s executive director says it’s too much hassle for members to mail checks or pay dues through the Internet. Really? We bet those same individuals pay other bills that way. When Wisconsin ended automatic deductions, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees lost over half its membership. We hope Oklahoma lawmakers take note and end automatic deductions for all public sector unions. The failure to pay dues indicates government workers don’t see much value in union membership. So why should the state keep propping up the unions?

Why indeed. In a purple state that has voted Democratic in the last six presidential elections, Gov. Walker showed tremendous courage. Yet in one of the reddest states in America, lawmakers continue to use your tax dollars to prop up an unpopular, declining labor union which recently sued these very lawmakers and then spent millions of dollars telling their constituents how greedy and deceptive they are. Very disappointing.

“Moving ahead,” says The Oklahoman, “we hope Walker’s example inspires Oklahoma lawmakers and steels their resolve.” OCPA agrees.

Brandon Dutcher can be reached at or

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