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Clerk of the House/ US Congress

Republicans Call on Unions to Stop Collecting Dues

They are pressuring the unions to end dues collection because of the pandemic

Brian Young's picture
Jun 05, 2020

Some of the biggest unions in the country are receiving letters from Republican House members questioning them about dues collection. The letters are being sent by Republican Workforce Leaders on the Education and Labor Committee, Reps. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Tim Walberg (R-MI).

In the letter, Foxx and Walberg question the AFL-CIO, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Teamsters, and UNITE HERE leaders about whether they are collecting dues from members who are out of work due to the pandemic. In the letter, Foxx and Walberg accuse the unions of “making it even more difficult for struggling Americans to make ends meet.”

Foxx, the former chair of the Education and Labor Committee, is a noted anti-union Congresswomen. In 2016, when she took over the committee, Foxx told Reuters that she thought unions had “lost their reason for being.”

Their letter went on to tell the unions to tighten their belts and demanded a national moratorium on dues collection for unemployed workers.

In a statement to Fox Business News, UNITE HERE responded to the letter saying

"UNITE HERE has never required unemployed members to pay dues, and in fact, it is not possible to collect union dues through employers where workers are unemployed,"

the spokesperson said. "Some members do continue to voluntarily self-pay their union dues, but that is at their own discretion."

Of course, voluntary self-payment of dues is what Foxx supposedly wants since that is the Right to Work model. Members may continue paying dues to ensure that their benefits don’t lag. For example, while SAG-AFTRA has extended its dues deadline, members who can afford to pay the dues are being encouraged to so that they ensure there is not a loss in residuals or contract negotiation and enforcement.

The AFL-CIO also responded to Fox saying that this is "the hollow act of two anti-worker politicians who would legislate unions out of existence if they had their way. This is a solution searching for a problem," the AFL-CIO spokesperson told FOX Business.

"The vast majority of union members do not pay dues when they are out of work and all other times they are proud to make an investment in themselves and their coworkers."

While Foxx and Walberg are questioning unions about their dues collections, unions like UNITE HERE have set up support funds, and have tasked their staff and vendors with helping to provide services like unemployment help and legal assistance to the members. UNITE HERE projects that upwards of 90% of their members were laid off during the height of the pandemic, although some have begun to return to work as big cities like Las Vegas reopen.

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