Lifting the Rock on Labor Union Corruption

(The opinions expressed in guest op-eds are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of

When his union, AFSCME Local 119, refused to take a position on mandatory COVID-19 vaccines, Mike Craine decided he was finished.

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. Also, a former vice president of his local, Mike spent years angered that the union was using his money for its own political pet projects instead of securing better wages, hours, and working conditions for members.

Following the instructions spelled out on the union card he signed 23 years ago, Mike sent the union a letter and asked to be released from both membership and future deductions and political spending using his pay.

But the union refused his request.

Instead, union officials sent Mike an expired copy of an agreement between the union and county supposedly restricting his ability to end the deductions and political spending using his money.

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

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This kind of response by unions like AFSCME has become all too common when public employees try to assert their First Amendment rights. And the majority of the time, the behavior occurs in the dark.

But in order to study slugs, sometimes you have to turn over a rock or two.

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. The union, in turn, uses the money not only for collective bargaining activities, but also to fund radical political causes across California.

When the employee finds out about it and objects, the union gives them the silent treatment or tells them to get lost.

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. In some cases, the person never signed a card or the union forged their 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.


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