Several tough new anti-teacher’s union laws were recently passed in Alabama, in the wake of an ethics investigation of education lobbyist Paul Hubbert. One law bans teachers from serving in the Statehouse. Another bans public employee unions that engage in lobbying from collecting dues through paycheck deductions.
While I oppose the use of members’ dues for lobbying, in fact I oppose lobbying and political action by unions, the laws are clearly unfair as they only target specific members of society. My understanding is that unions which do not lobby can still collect dues through payroll deductions. For those that choose to continue lobbying, the process of dues collection will become much more expensive, time-consuming, and difficult, potentially leading to devastating revenue shortfalls that could even bankrupt the unions.
There is a silver lining on this: Perhaps Alabama’s public employee unions will get out of the politics game, which they cannot win anyway (especially against the bottomless pockets of big business), and go back to the more effective and powerful tactics of organizing, educating and agitating their members and the communities that support them. It is important to remember that buying politicians does not necessarily get workers the laws and budgets that they want. But a well-organized union is a militant one and one that can mobilize quickly to take actions that force the bosses (and politicians) to bend.