Ringo Chiu/ZUMA Press/Newscom

Ringo Chiu/ZUMA Press/Newscom

If it seems like unions are making a fuss lately, it’s because they are.

It’s an election year, and they need money.

Just one in 15 private-sector workers is a union member—in 2013, union membership was at its lowest rate since 1916.

That might explain why they’re grasping for new members in stunts like unionizing college athletes, especially as their influence in the workplace is being challenged in the courts.

As Kevin Mooney reported for The Foundry:

Lawyers with National Right to Work Foundation…argued before the high court that it is unconstitutional to compel Illinois residents to fund SEIU’s political activism. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the plaintiffs, payment of union dues by personal caregivers no longer would be mandatory but become voluntary.

“They’re trying to lock people into paying dues while they still can,” said Linda Dobbs, a dues-paying California union member who questioned a visit she received from some aggressive union representatives.

For unionized workers, dues come out of their paychecks and go to political causes—and they aren’t consulted on where that money will go. When Dobbs asked what she was getting for her money, she was informed that her union dues had gone to promoting Obamacare and supporting the re-election of the president.

This kind of coercion is one reason for the decline in unions’ popularity. Heritage’s James Sherk and Filip Jolevski note that the remaining stronghold is government employees.

The union movement remains strongest in the one sector of the economy that is immune from competitive pressures: the government. In fact, twice as many union members work for the Postal Service as in the entire domestic auto industry.

For people in the private sector, unions often restrict the rights of workers more than they boost them. And workers are seeing that’s not a good deal for them.

Volkswagen employees in Chattanooga, Tenn., sent that message when they voted against unionization in February. One worker explained: “We felt like we were already being treated very well by Volkswagen in terms of pay and benefits and bonuses. We also looked at the track record of the [United Auto Workers]. Why buy a ticket on the Titanic?”

Why, indeed. It’s time for Congress to expand employee rights and free people to choose what kinds of associations they want to be a part of.

Read the Morning Bell and more en español every day at Heritage Libertad.

Quick Hits: