Week in Review: Free at last

Andy Matthews

Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.

Free at last

Imagine if along with the deductions for taxes, social security and unemployment on your paycheck was a deduction to support a set of political and social causes you vehemently oppose.

Worse yet, imagine that the group taking money from your paycheck was telling people far and wide that you support the very causes you know cause harm to yourself, other taxpayers and the economy.

For workers like Rebecca Friedrichs, who works in a state without right-to-work protections, this isn’t some imaginary scenario. It’s life.

On Tuesday, as part of National Employee Freedom Week, Rebecca told her story while sitting alongside NPRI’s Executive Vice President, Victor Joecks. They participated in a panel discussion on employee freedom hosted in Washington, D.C., by the Heritage Foundation, with C-SPAN covering the event.

Rebecca described how it felt when some of the money she earned as a California teacher was put toward causes and political candidates she opposes. And she talked about the bullying and intimidation that employees experience when they dare challenge the status quo.

“We literally felt like little children being bullied on a playground,” Rebecca said of the treatment she and others received after questioning the union’s use of members’ dues for political causes.

Unfortunately, Rebecca’s story is far from unique — versions of it play out in every state. Earlier this year, Nevada Journal reported on threats and intimidation by the Culinary Union, and a new poll released by NEFW finds that over 28 percent of union members said they would leave their union if they could do so without penalty.

That’s why National Employee Freedom Week, when groups across the country highlight employees’ ability to opt-out of union membership, is so important. This week, NPRI led the way in shining light on the stories of people like Rebecca, who’s receiving an agency-fee rebate for her union’s political spending. We let union members know they have options when it comes to union membership, even in non-right-to-work states like California, Illinois and New Jersey.

Earlier this week, I told you about the growth of NEFW, which NPRI started last year in conjunction with the Association of American Educators. Since I last wrote to you, the campaign has generated even more coverage across the nation and from major media outlets.

In addition to the Wall Street Journal and Politico articles I mentioned Monday, National Employee Freedom Week was featured by The Washington Examiner, The Washington Times, The Daily Caller, Townhall, Bloomberg Businessweek, The Orange County Register, The Ben Shapiro Show and numerous other major outlets in various states.

Thanks to this media attention, countless union members now know they have the right to break free from unions that build themselves up by tearing dissenting members down.

Do you know what else is encouraging? Earlier this week, we shared with you the results of a poll that found 82.8 percent of Nevadans support allowing union members, without force or penalty, to leave their union if they want to.

But that’s not only true in Nevada. Across the country, 82.9 percent of Americans expressed support for this principle, usually called right-to-work.

And even in non-right-to-work Minnesota (where I was vacationing this week, by the way), 83.44 percent of those polled expressed their support for this principle.

All across the country, we have union members wanting to leave their unions; widespread public support for their ability to do so; and, now, National Employee Freedom Week — which is dedicated to empowering those workers to do exactly that.

Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend.

Andy Matthews
NPRI President

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