The omissions in Jeff Jacoby’s Feb. 28 attack on union fees are astonishing (“Government unions play politics with unconstitutional dollars,” Opinion). To justify the misuse of the First Amendment by the right wing in its assault on union agency fees, Jacoby claims that virtually everything unions do is political.
Yet nowhere in his hundreds of words does Jacoby mention that unions employ lawyers who are required to represent, for free, every employee, whether the employee joins the union or not. If an employee who refuses to pay dues is discriminated against because of race or favoritism or suffers sexual harassment, union members’ dues pay for the hours of legal representation that employee receives.
Imagine Jacoby’s outrage if a private company were required by the government to do anything similar. He’d be screaming government coercion from the rooftops.
At the same time, while he refuses to mention the clear nonpolitical activities that unions do, Jacoby finds plenty of room to insert ridiculously charged language to disparage unions. “Keep their paws” out of paychecks and “paying tribute to a union” are the kind of inflammatory phrases that are used to create a smokescreen to disguise the right’s true intentions: to destroy unions if they dare to support Democratic politicians.
The writer is a member of a public employees union.