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Union membership - the lowest on record

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

Unions are not what they used to be. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released its latest data on union membership in the United States. It shows the union membership rate is down to just 10.1% - the lowest on record.

Union membership rates for 2022 in the Mountain States are not the lowest, but certainly not the highest.

Luckily, Idaho is a right to work state meaning you cannot be forced to be part of a union as a condition of your employment. Still, one of the state's largest unions - the Idaho Education Association - wields tremendous power at the state capitol. Tax returns show the IEA collects almost $4 million a year in membership dues.

Washington and Montana, however, are not right to work states.

Not only can you be required to be part of the union (with very few opt-out provisions), but in many cases in many states, the government or workplaces can be required to collect dues from employee paychecks and distribute them to union bank accounts. The "check off clause," as it is known, exists in many union contracts.

It's understandable why unions would want this provision kept in place. After all, it's much easier to simply remove the dues from a paycheck than force a worker to write a check after they already have their earnings.

Idaho Representative Heather Scott has introduced a bill to prevent that from happening in Idaho. From HB 91:

"The state executive, legislative, and judicial branches and any subdivision, public officer, or public employee of the state executive, legislative, or judicial branch shall be prohibited from using public funds to pay membership fees or dues to any organization unless required to do so by law or unless required to maintain professional licensure for the purposes of fulfilling and maintaining state employment."

If workers want to be part of a union, that is up to them. But taxpayers are not the union's collection agency and government isn't the enforcement arm.

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