by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Kathy Uradnik writes for the Martin Center about her forced membership in a labor union.
We would be outraged if the federal government or a state government required us to join a political party, or forced us to become a member of a particular religion, or authorized those organizations to speak for us against our will. Government shouldn’t have that power, and thankfully it doesn’t—with the glaring exception of forced union representation. Forced union representation is an affront to the freedom of individuals to choose how and with whom they wish to associate. As we enter the mid-21st century, government continues to mandate that its employees accept union representation, whether they want it or not.
Joining a union, just like joining a political party or a religious group, should be an individual’s free choice. Not joining a union, and not being ascribed its views, should be my free choice, but it isn’t. That’s why I’m fighting to change the law.
I am a professor of political science at St. Cloud State University, one of seven universities in the Minnesota State University System. Since joining the faculty in 1999, I have been forced to accept union representation and have continuously fought for reform.
Many of my union colleagues believe that I’m anti-union. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have strong blue-collar roots, including a long history of union membership in my family. My father was a truck driver for 30 years—a Chicago Teamster no less. My grandfather spent his career in the auto industry; he belonged to the United Automobile Workers. My husband and three generations of his family were members of the steel workers’ union. When I was growing up, most of my relatives belonged to a labor union.
That was fine for them, but it’s not fine for me.