Big Labor Political Influence Does Not Make Union Bosses Labor Experts

A well-known fact is Big Labor’s powerful political influence. According to, five of the top 10 all-time federal campaign political donors are unions. AFSCME ranks third overall and is the top union donor, contributing $46,380,898 since 1989, with 94 percent of funds going to Democrats.

However, Big Labor spending does not correlate to unions having a wealth of knowledge concerning labor law.

Today, Heritage Foundation Senior Policy Analyst James Sherk points out pro-union supporters’ primary argument against right-to-work is legally groundless. He provides an example of Big Labor ignorance of labor law, citing District 7 United Steelworkers Director Jim Robinson as an example of Big Labor ignorance of labor law:

Under a right-to-work law, people could withdraw from the union and wouldn’t have to pay anything. But we are still obligated by federal law to represent them like we would represent a member.

Sherk counters Mr. Robinson’s argument, referencing a Supreme Court ruling and federal law.

Federal law does not obligate unions to represent non-members. The National Labor Relations Act allows unions to sign “members’ only” contracts that apply only to dues-paying members. This is legally uncontroversial. In 1938, the Supreme Court expressly upheld union’s ability to negotiate only on behalf of members. As William Gould, chairman of the NLRB under President Clinton, wrote, “the law now permits members-only bargaining for employees” — unions can exclude non-members from their contracts.

They rarely do. Instead, unions typically negotiate as “exclusive bargaining representatives.”

The clear explanation for union false claims is to preserve their privileged legal status. Exclusive bargaining representation preserves union legal status by increasing union bargaining power with the employer and coercive power over workers covered by the union.

That is why Big Labor will go to any lengths, even fabricate the meaning of federal law, to stop right-to-work laws. Big Labor political power stems from legal authority used to forcibly collect dues. Right-to-work laws essentially make all union representation “members’ only” contracts, severely curtailing union influence.

Sherk’s article is a reminder to workers that Big Labor has one goal: to collect dues by any means necessary — for the most part, at the expense of union members.