The Paycheck Protection Act gives Congress a chance to defend the little guy

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Freshman Missouri congressman Eric Burlison (R) has introduced legislation called the Paycheck Protection Act. The act, a project of the nonprofit American Legislative Exchange Council, has been proposed previously in several states and has always been staunchly opposed by unions and their allies. This is strange because according to the pro-union’s side’s own rhetoric, the legislation will have no effect.

Here’s what the Paycheck Protection Act does: The bill prohibits federal agencies from diverting any part of their workers’ paychecks to a union, but leaves workers perfectly free to do that on their own. The legislation is not to be confused with the Paycheck Protection Program, COVID-19 related legislation intended to prevent private business forced to temporarily close operations from laying off workers.

According to the claims often made by unions and their allies, workers want to engage in collective bargaining. Therefore, any workers affected by the act could simply start making voluntary payments to their unions. In today’s digital age, that would be no more complicated than the worker tapping a few buttons on their phone once a month.

The legislation is always opposed because, contrary to their rhetoric, unions and their allies don’t trust that workers will voluntarily make those payments. If given the chance to keep all of the money they earn, many workers will take that deal, effectively starving the union of revenue.

The progressive nonprofit Center for Media and Democracy said that the version drafted for states would make it “very difficult for public employee unions to raise funds for political activities. It would significantly impact public employee unions like teacher’s unions and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), whose expenditures primarily benefit Democrats.”

The closest unions and their allies will come to admitting this is unjust or wrong as policy, as opposed politically inconvenient for them, is saying that unions suffer from a “free rider” problem if workers are allowed to opt out. This is the argument that union bargaining benefits all workers so all workers should pay. But if the workers aren’t grateful to union for its bargaining, whose fault is that?

In any event, shouldn’t the government’s purpose be protecting the rights of the individual workers? Lawmakers who claim to want to protect the little guy should be on the side of the workers who want to make their own choices.