Letters to the Editor

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UNIONS: State workers forced to join, pay up

Letter by John Melton, University Place on March 16, 2011 at 1:51 pm with 60 Comments »
March 16, 2011 2:16 pm

I retired from the state Department of Labor & Industries in June 2010. As a condition of my continued employment with the state, I was required in 2004 to join the union, the Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE).

I did not have a choice. I was told that either I join the union or I would lose my job. Yes, I could petition to be a non-voting member of the union and pay a little less each month. However, the petitioning process was burdensome and required me to petition anew each year. So, I acquiesced after the first year and unwillingly became a full member of the AFSE.

My employer (Labor & Industries) functioned as the bag man for the union and withheld union dues from my paycheck each month. My right to work was denied by collective bargaining. I submit that if state workers in Washington were not required to join the union as a condition of employment, most would choose not to join.

Collective bargaining has become a politically driven system in Washington state which extorts my income (1.5 percent of my monthly pay) and denies my right to work.

Leave a comment Comments → 60
  1. John, so you want unions to go away so you dont have to pay dues… how about doing the smart thing and DO NOT APPLY FOR JOBS THAT HAVE UNIONS…..I didnt know the whole world was all about you….sighs

  2. Roncella says:

    John, If what you are saying in your letter is true, its a sad day for Washington State.

    The Union Bosses that have pushed so hard for the Public Employee Unions to become so powerful that they control many politicians and have bankrupted Cities and States throughout the Country.

    Sue, Its not so easy to find another job in todays ObamaEconomy.

  3. banksyfan says:

    Not all jobs are like that. As a teacher I had a CHOICE to be in the WEA. If I didn’t then, no dues were taken out but I also could not use the benefits attached to being part of the Union such as legal help in wrongful situations and for my voice to be heard about benefits, pay and class sizes. I will always choose to be in a Union if there is one available.

  4. I don’t hear you complaining about those union wages and benefits, John.

    Why is that? You want your cake and eat it too.

  5. dallasow says:

    John, If you retired in 2010, I don’t think the state is still taking 1.5% of your salary.

    I imagine you enjoyed the efforts of the union to get you better benefits, good working conditions, and descent pay, and I imagine you did not complain about those perks. I also imagine that, in your retirement, you will continue to enjoy the earned benefits, and If you are so dissatisfied with your former union, then refuse your retirement benefits and let the state keep the funds associated with those benefits. You do have that option.

    Sue, I agree with you.

    RonC, union have presidents, not bosses as you imply. Also, the president (Obama) doesn’t create jobs. He signs legislative policies presented by congress that affect the creation of jobs. However, since the republicans took over congress they have not presented one bill in support of jobs creation. That’s what they campaigned on, but, as usual, they lied. It’s more important for them to worry about abortions, planned parenthood, and defeating the president in 2012.

  6. Fber: This is American, and if an emloyer whats to allow or even require workers to be in a union, its his right to do so. And neither you or anyone else has the right to denie the employee that riigt

  7. Fber: This is American, and if an emloyer whats to allow or even require workers to be in a union, its his right to do so. And neither you or anyone else has the right to denie the employer that riigt

  8. blogging on a bus is so much fun

  9. “could petition to be a non-voting member of the union”… and you’d have a huge bull-eye on your back…

  10. fbergford, you are very confused.

  11. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    Yesterday’s letter said it all. Use the fedeal system. They don’t have to join or pay dues and have the best benefits and pay of any government workers. Why are the unions afraid. See yesterday’s letter for the answer to this problem.

    http://blog.thenewstribune.com/letters/2011/03/15/what-have-we-learned-from-the-wisconsin-experience/

  12. Fran, chill out!

  13. I still want xring to explain what a “muslin nation” and “muslin country” is…

  14. It’s not about fear, taxedenuffintacoma. The purpose of unions is that their members are united, not disjointed.

    There is no I in team.

  15. John,

    A few thoughts. Nobody forced you to do anything, you chose to pay union dues. Working for the state or government is not a right, it’s a priviledge. Any job or career comes with requirements we may not like (dress code, hours of work, supervisors, etc) and we make a choice as to whether or not we stay or go.

    Not all agencies are paid with general tax dollars. To say unions are the cause of financial crisis facing states is rather old.

  16. hortonpeak says:

    Wonderful dialogue by all. Parsing the comments, I think the class is starting to do some critical thinking. Except for thirdpig – oops did not participate. Must be busy somewhere else, or the “s” key is broken. That said, interesting debate. I only wish the “editorial” writers of the “news” tribune would engage in such a debate. But, then, we, after all, are only “LTTE” folks and the “editorial” writers are the “grand pubahs (sic)” of knowledge – think not. Hoping for a Portland/Seattle MLS Championship Playoff – we all need our diversions. Cheers to all.

  17. Jesus Johnny !

    You sat on your fat a– most of your career, and then collected a Teamster Pension on top of your SSI !

    So John, tell us again what your problem is with The Unions ?

  18. concernedtacoma7 says:

    The purpose of a union today is threefold

    -Demand higher wages with threat of a strike, in the case of public workers denying the public of services their taxes paid for

    -Demand concessions from employers making it near impossible to get fired (NYC public schools is a great example of this kind of fraud)

    -Keep the union bosses employed/in power

    Federal workers have excellent benefits and work conditions. Lets face the fact this about union bosses staying rich and workers trying to get more money from their employers, which is great until the employer is the taxpayer.

  19. Well concernedtacoma, a few points.

    Public unions in washington aren’t demanding any wage increases, in fact I think I read where they accepted a voluntary wage reduction and increased payments for benefits. I also read where it’s ‘illegal’ to strike. What services do you think will be denied?

    Concessions form employers? Not sure about NYC as I haven’t heard anything about Washington State. See above, union members gave concessions to the taxpayers this time. Unfortunately I have a renter who was a union member for DOL who was fired. Bad for him, and loss of a renter for me.

    Union bosses are elected by the members.

    Using the federal system is great for some. However, state workers have a choice to pay dues or not. Public employees can resign at any moment and mvoe on, or transfer to non union departments. True? From what I can tell union members voted to become closed shops.

  20. olbluedoc says:

    fbergford – First of all, you don’t have the right to tell anyone to”shut their pie-hole.” I’s a free country pal. And we don’t need you to critique grammar as well. And while I’m at it, Your taxes never have and never will pay for unions. Employees are free to spend their paychecks wherever they want. Once they earn that paycheck, it belongs to them. If you don’t want to pay union dues, STAY OUT of union shops! Teachers and government employees have been unionized for decades and will continue to be represented long after Scott Walker and all the thugs are gone.

  21. concernedtacoma;

    Need to clarify my 8:07pm comment. I meant to say I believe it is illegal for general government (is this the correct term?) employees to strike. Ex, I don’t think you will see L&I leave on mass walkouts/strikes.

    Teachers tend to strike at a drop of a hat. However, the LTE was about Mr. Melton believing he was ‘forced’ to pay union dues.

  22. concernedtacoma7 says:

    JWD- since this debate has been focused on unions in general, not local labor laws and union policies, I followed that trend.

    I do agree that this debate should be brought back to local/state level.

  23. Rollo_Tomassi says:

    Do I understand the Union Supporters on this thread correctly? Their position is that if you don’t like Union rules and regulations, you should not work in a union shop?

    What right do unions have to tell anyone else that they can’t work for the state government that we all support with tax dollars? What right do union taxpayers have to carve out a section of the state budget and reserve it to themselves strictly by virtue of them belonging to a private club. Do union members really believe they have some special right to everyone else’s tax dollars?

    I’m fine with voluntary union membership for those who choose to join, but this idea that union members can take over a section of everyones government and control its direction is just nuts. Where do they acquire these special rights?

  24. Well Rollo_Tomassi,

    First of all, I personally don’t agree with unions. They served a purpose in this country (and I sure they still do to some extent) but for the most purpose they would offer me nothing.

    My original belief as it relates to Mr. Melton’s letter was nobody forced him to do anything. As for unions, they don’t have special rights. They are taking advantage of laws passed by our legislature. Nothing more, nothing less. We may not like the legislation, but it’s here to stay until changed.

    Working for the state is not a right, a priviledge. If a state employee is so upset to accept compensation from the state but don’t like paying dues, they are free to resign and go somewhere else. From what I have gathered there are many state agencies where there is no union.

    Safe to say we may agree to disagree on this issue. If the laws allow for collective bargaining and employees have the opportunity to vote to unionize, so be it.

  25. Fberg: I have published more than a dozen scientific reports and have reviewed twice that number. I’ve had to put up with lots of egomaniac editors all of whom were far better and more knowledge writes then you. So take your childish temper tantrum outside. And for the record my corrected post is:

    This is American, and if an employer wants to allow or even require workers to be in a union, it is his right to do so. And neither you nor anyone else has the right to deny the employer that right.

    Frosty, because those terms do not appear on this thread I see no reason to respond. Except to say nice flip flop, first you chide me for using spell check, now you chide me for not using it.

  26. John, you sucked at the public trough all your working life and are still sucking drawing a state pension and benefits. Please shut up and go away. A whole lot of folks would like your cry-baby problems. They could make their house payments and buy groceries. The assistance of having Union Membership has made it all nice a cushy for you in retirement. There are a lot of seniors in the world who are eating dog food. Use your energies to help others, not to drip tears in the Letters column.

  27. commoncents says:

    I believe that blog etiquette rule number 1 states that “You should never use bad grammar yourself when being hyper-critical about the grammar of another.”

    Poor form, fbergford, poor form! Let’s get one thing clear…proper spelling does not equate to proper grammar.

    And roncella? The OP stated that he was “forced” to join the union in 2004. At that point in time Obama was a mere blip on the radar and jobs were bountiful.

    Bottom line is that no one is forced to join a union shop (or a non-union shop for that matter). There is no indentured servitude here and we all work based upon our own free will.

  28. The demokrat party survives on involuntary dues collections. If people had a choice whether to join or not, Trumpka would be working in a coal mine somewhere instead of visiting the White 3-4 times a week. Ignorance is bliss for the demokrats.

  29. scott0962 says:

    You’ve discovered the dirty little secret about unions John. When they’re working to get one certified it’s all about workers’ rights and choice, once the union is in place it’s about “collective rights” and choice changes to coercion.

    If unions were clearly of benefit to the workers they represent then unions wouldn’t be afraid to let people choose whether to join or not, their services would speak for themselves.

  30. Roncella, I have told you this before. It is not Obama’s economy. It’s Bush’s economy. Why dont you try to accept facts over your sociopathic ideology.
    Bush increased spending by 104% while cutting revenue AND starting 2 wars he didnt put in the budget. Now if you can not grasp the concept that it is Bush who gave us the economic mess over gopcult ideology you are anti american. It’s funny how Bush was responsible for nothing but Obama is responsible for everything…. yeah tell me the gop is not a cult.

  31. The employees vote whether to organize or not. Once they’ve voted to organize, any subsequent new hire is required to be a dues paying member of that organization. They voted to become a closed shop. Democracy.

    If there are enough employees to vote against that union membership, they’re relationship with that union ends. Democracy.

    For you to come along and unilaterally decide that you want to be an employee but not be a member of that labor organization, is in violation of their democratically instituted agreement, madmike272.

    If enough people who think like you become employees and union members, you can call for a vote and vote the union out. My guess is that you wouldn’t be dumb enough to vote against the union once you realized the benefits of being part of that group and where you would be without collective bargaining.

    I would also guess that you wouldn’t want that job if it didn’t come with union wages and benefits.

  32. If someone like you or madmike272 could get the benefits of collective bargaining without having to pay dues, scott0962, you would. Then, where would unions be? Broke!

    Many of you want the benefits of living in this country, yet you begrudge paying the very taxes that it takes to keep this country strong. Same result.

    You want your cake and eat it too.

  33. The something for nothing crowd…….

  34. Yep.

  35. “unilaterally decide that you want to be an employee” ??? Kooky thing to say.

  36. John says, “However, the petitioning process was burdensome and required me to petition anew each year. So, I acquiesced after the first year and unwillingly became a full member of the AFSE.”

    Rather than actually put forth any effort, he gave in.

    Now he says, “My employer (Labor & Industries) functioned as the bag man for the union and withheld union dues from my paycheck each month.”

    He’s saying that he would have preferred to go to the bother of calculating and making his own monthly dues payments, rather than have that task done for him.

    Now that’s Kooky!

  37. sandiKLawz says:

    John:

    Enjoy your retirement. The Union worked for you.

  38. fbergford says:

    oldbluedoc…shut your pie hole! hahahaha what are you going to do….ah NOTHING! You are correct this is a free country and Freedom of Speech is covered under the First Ammenedmant. So I can say whatever I want ;) Second of all, if you don’t know how to use our language correctly, you are a moron! Your parents, your teachers failed you! Thirdly, you are going to sit there, take it and enjoy every minute of it!

    Have I talked about taxes on any of my posts on here…the answer is NO! So learn how to read, learn how to put together a good arguement, and then respond to me. If you cannot do that, well you are an idiot then and you should have paid attention in school.

    Do whatever, blame me for watching fox news, blame Bush, and republicans, EVERY single post is regurgitated crap that middle of the road people have to listen to and read by YOU who cannot think for yourself and expect handouts every where you go!

  39. ammendedmant?

    freedom of speech is one thing but freedom with speech is another

  40. … still wondering what the heck you meant by “unilaterally decide”. Perhaps your talking points overlapped…

  41. What do you mean by talking points?

  42. Maybe John simply wanted to use the term “bag man” to perpetuate his perception of union dues as being somehow illicit or unethical.

    People like John are the reason that open shops don’t work, and never will.

  43. I’ve noticed the certain words are used to paint the topic of conversation a color other than that which it is in actually.

    For instance, in this letter John uses the terms “bag man” and “extorts” to make it appear as though something illicit is occurring.

    I suppose “talking point” is meant to make it look like the commenter is parroting some other source rather than speaking his/her own mind, an effort to discredit the person, not the comment.

    Maybe he doesn’t understand the word unilaterally, in this case, “Obligating only one of two or more parties, nations, or persons, as a contract or an agreement.”

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/unilaterally

  44. … no, I just understand what “unilaterally decide that you want to be an employee” is supposed to mean. Was he supposed to consult with someone else and get their permission? Weird…

    As to xring’s “to whatido” comment. My friend bB summed it up nicely once upon a time (and subsequently did a reversal)….

    beerBoy wrote on 04/24/2010 06:06:36 AM:

    “Someone who thinks he knows how others think is a fool.”

  45. fbergford says:

    Glad my work is done here! Thanks for entertaining me until the games began! My advice to you all suck a fat one and drink some green beer!

  46. Fran, you’re one sick puppy!

  47. Out of context, it may sound kooky to yooky, whatidonowtodeservethis.

    Read the whole sentence.

    “For you to come along and unilaterally decide that you want to be an employee but not be a member of that labor organization, is in violation of their democratically instituted agreement,”

  48. So horton, sandi ..snail and sue-sum402 had something to say tonight.

    Whatever.

    sum402, you screwed up because I don’t think you as sue1234 have said anything to Roncella before, let alone said anything about gopcult and fishing…

    “sue1234 says:
    MARCH 17, 2011 AT 8:27 AM
    Roncella, I have told you this before. It is not Obama’s economy. It’s Bush’s economy. Why dont you try to accept facts over your sociopathic ideology.
Bush increased spending by 104% while cutting revenue AND starting 2 wars he didnt put in the budget. Now if you can not grasp the concept that it is Bush who gave us the economic mess over gopcult ideology you are anti american. It’s funny how Bush was responsible for nothing but Obama is responsible for everything…. yeah tell me the gop is not a cult.”

    By the way, don’t tell anyone, BUT the dnc is ALSO a CULT. Right sue…..

    And sorry suezze Obama is in his third year, he owns it all. Just like you said Bush owned it all after one year when he inherited the Clinton recession.

  49. And the brave and bold cultural warrior fbergford cuts and runs.

  50. … it is illuminating how on one hand the left assigns the 9-11 events that took years to plan and were carried out 7 months into the Bush presidency yet 3 years into Obama’s he still gets the free pass.

  51. fbergford says:

    Polago…thank you! I am one sick puppy! Xring, Xring, Xring….I didn’t cut and run I had to celebrate St Patty’s Day! I see with your comment at 930 at night, you did not! My advice to you sir, stop writing so many scientific journals and go out and have some fun! You might actually enjoy yourself!

    Liberals still suck, Obama’s the worst president in my lifetime and the First Amendment is as follows:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

  52. Paddy is not my patron saint. And Ireland is not my ancestral homeland.

    Worst president in my life time would be Bush II, with LBJ a close second.

    Honorably mention split between Nixon and Ford.

  53. Obama’s the worst president in my lifetime

    Now I’m wondering what sort of bar lets a 3 year old drink green food coloring tainted beer……

  54. Could this be an ad hominem attack that you rail against so often?

    whatido should capture this for the future.

  55. Nope. Not ad hominem, just responding to what he posted.

    I had to celebrate St Patty’s Day! = Green Beer for many folks.

    Obama’s the worst president in my lifetime = the past 3 years.

  56. K

  57. beerBoy says:
    March 19, 2011 at 6:08 am
    Now I’m wondering what sort of bar lets a 3 year old drink green food coloring tainted beer……
    ….

    beerBoy says:
    January 1, 2011 at 9:45 am
    sozo – it is apparent that condescension doesn’t annoy you when it is used in service of viewpoints you support……
    ….

    beerBoy says:
    January 30, 2011 at 12:50 pm
    The pot keeps seeing his reflection in all the shiny kettles……

  58. whatido – you nailed me! I am a complete beer snob. I do look down my nose at those who think drinking a pint of Guiness or (shudder) some food-color tainted yellow burp water in order to get intoxicated with a bunch of other idiots is a great way to celebrate.

    As an alcoholic ex-roommate of mine once said – “I don’t go out on New Year’s Eve or St. Patrick’s Day, it’s amateur night.”

  59. What happened to your prediction “And this article will be accompanied by the usual comments from the usual suspects…..” ?

    Read more: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2011/03/20/1592392/some-people-wont-let-facts-get.html#ixzz1HFehHGAx

  60. Roncella says:

    Sue1234, Your thinking about President Bush being responsible for the current mess makes just about as much sense as saying the following, (In Your leftest/Liberal Mind Only),

    Bush is responsibile for all earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, the Flu, anyone who lost a job for any reason, Heart attacks, strokes, starvation worldwide, high cost of living, title waves, bullies in schools, all murders, and shootings, pollution of anykind, auto accidents, violent attacks along the border with mexico, high price of gas, snow storms, loss of real estate values,sick people anywhere in the world,

    Sue1234 need I go on and on and on or do you understand how foolish you sound now ??????

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