Lifting the Rock on Labor Union Corruption – Opinion

Guest op-eds do not always reflect the opinions of the author.

Mike Craine was done when his union, AFSCME Local 119 refused to adopt a position regarding mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations.

A veteran of the U.S. Army and longtime employee of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Craine knows what it is like to fight back. Mike was also a vice-president of his local and spent many years angry that his union used his money to fund its political projects rather than securing better wages for his members.

Mike followed all the instructions on the 23-year-old union card that he had signed, and wrote a letter asking to be freed from any future deducts or political spending.

The union denied his request.

Instead, Mike was sent by union officials. ExpiredCopy of an agreement between county and union restricting the amount of his power to stop deductions from his paycheck and his political spending.

In other words: “Sorry, Mike. You’re out of luck.”

This is the typical response of unions such as AFSCME to public employees trying to exercise their First Amendment rights. This behavior is most often done in the dark.

Sometimes, however, you will need to flip a few rocks in order to understand slugs.

Here’s how the scheme works: A public employee has money taken out of his or her paycheck and sent to a union representing their bargaining unit. This money is then used by the union to not only fund collective bargaining but also for radical political causes throughout California.

If the employee discovers about the object and finds out, the union either gives the silent treatment or encourages the employee to find their way home.

Maybe the person signed a membership card, and maybe they didn’t. In situations like Mike Craine’s, these cards can be over 20 years old. Some cards may be signed but never used by the signer, or the union may have forged the signature.

In any event, the employee’s dues are confiscated every single pay period and sent to the union whether he or she likes it or not.

They receive excuses or hostility from the union. This all comes from an organisation that is supposed to represent their interests, and which is supported and protected under state law.

What’s an employee to do?

Many are forced to accept it. They grit their teeth, watching their own money being used to support political causes they despise, waiting for an annual “opt-out” window during which, hopefully, they get all their paperwork filed on time and in exactly the format the union wants or they will be on the hook for another year.

Every year, hundreds of these events occur across the state.

Other people might also consider taking legal action. Private attorneys who can represent their interests in court will likely charge hundreds of Dollars an hour.

Rarely, however, are the unions sued or brought before a courtroom to answer for unconstitutional conduct. How do they respond?

They see light suddenly.

“Sorry it took so long to process your request. The paperwork may have been lost or misplaced. You’re definitely out of the union. That isn’t your signature? Really? Don’t worry, we’ll take care of it. And by the way: Here is the check we received for the money taken. No hard feelings, right?”

The union then goes into court and tells the judge there’s no reason to continue with the lawsuit. Everything is now in order.


There are many employees that are incapable of doing anything for Mike Craine.

Mike Craine’s situation is more than a one-off occurrence. It’s evidence of widespread and systemic corruption on the part of California labor unions in general, and AFSCME in particular.

Come to think of it, the unions aren’t slugs at all. They’re leeches sucking on the consistent flow of taxpayer subsidies. The First Amendment rights to Mike Craine, a hardworking, honest employee, will be lost as long as there is no change in the status quo.

And the Constitution worth no more than the ink on the unions’ belated refund checks.

Timothy Snowball is an attorney in California for the Freedom Foundation.

About Post Author

Follow Us