Issues

Survey: 3 in 10 Union Members Want Out

Movement aims to inform employees about their right to opt out

Construction worker holding spanner / AP

Nearly 30 percent of union members would opt out of their union if given the chance, according to a new survey.

The survey, which was commissioned by National Employee Freedom Week, found that 28 percent of workers belonging to unions or union households would cut ties with labor groups if give the opportunity. More than 60 percent of respondents said that workers who opt out of union dues and fees should represent themselves in negotiations with their employer.

Over two-thirds of union members told the group last year that employees should have the right to opt out of union membership "without force or penalty."

That result demonstrates that even union loyalists respect the right to choose among their coworkers, said Vincent Vernuccio, an NEFW spokesman and labor policy expert at Michigan’s Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

"About two-thirds of people said workers that want out should not be forced to accept representation," he told the Washington Free Beacon in a phone interview. "It shows that even union members that don’t want out still thank that employees deserve a choice."

The Google survey asked 300 union members or union households in all 50 states about their attitudes toward monopoly representation.

NEFW is a collection of free market groups across the country that aims to inform workers about their labor rights under state and federal law. Activists will help workers in the nation’s 26 right to work states opt out of full union membership as a condition of employment, while instructing workers in 24 non-right to work states about their Beck Rights, which enable them to pay only partial dues in order to avoid subsidizing union political activity.

Vernuccio said that employee education is key. The 2013 implementation of right to work in his native Michigan was accompanied by union legal challenges and obstruction. Unions only allowed members to withdraw from the organizations during short windows of time and reported former union members to collection agencies in order to maintain the flow of union dues.

Vernuccio said the NEFW hopes to empower workers in order to combat intimidation tactics.

"Time and again we’ve heard union leaders say that it’s not their job to inform their membership on how to exercise their rights, so we’ve made it our job," he said.

Labor watchdogs say that informing workers of their rights is more crucial than ever after the Obama administration edited a George W. Bush-era workplace posting that let workers know about their Beck Rights.

Trey Kovacs, a labor expert at the free market Competitive Enterprise Institute, said outreach efforts would give workers a fuller understanding of federal labor protections.

"National Employee Freedom Week is a crucial public service to counteract this assault on worker freedom," Kovacs said in a release. "All hardworking men and women should know about their freedom to opt out of union membership, especially since many workers do not approve of their union’s political spending."