Union Time, Taxpayer Dime

Across the country, public money pays for government-union officials’ political activities.

The death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia likely spared public-employee unions a devastating legal defeat. In Scalia’s absence, the 4-4 stalemate in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association allowed labor groups to continue charging an “agency fee” to employees who don’t want to join a union. Now, powerful government-employee unions face another legal challenge, this time from disgruntled taxpayers who object to paying the salaries of union officials engaging in political activities.

So-called “release time” or “association business leave,” a common provision in public-employee union contracts, allows government workers—who are also union officers—to receive their full salaries at taxpayer expense, even if they exclusively perform union business. Release time costs state, local, and federal taxpayers more than $100 million annually. Taxpayers nationwide have begun challenging this subsidy, contending that it constitutes an unconstitutional “gift” of public funds. Unlike Friedrichs, which alleged a violation of the Constitution, current litigation relies on state constitutions, the interpretation of which doesn’t rest on federal precedent, and thus is not dependent on the composition of the High Court. State courts are the final arbiters of their own constitutions, a fact that liberal activists have—ironically—exploited in the past to achieve policy goals not possible under the U.S. Constitution.

Read More at City Journal

  • “Mark Pulliam is one of the few truly fearless, devastatingly incisive, original and yet deeply learned commentators on the contemporary legal scene.  His new blog is a welcome addition and a splendid and provocative resource.”
    Professor Stephen B. Presser
    Raoul Berger Professor of Legal History Emeritus, Northwestern University School of Law
  • “Mark Pulliam is the Walt Longmire of legal conservatism. You don't want to be on the wrong end of his pen. His commentary on law, politics, and policy is not to be missed.”
    Richard Reinsch II
    Director of Law and Liberty, Liberty Fund, Inc.
  • “Mark's blistering criticism of the foibles of the lawyering class and crackpot judges is a worthy penance for a recovering attorney. And it is our gain.”
    Michael Thompson
    Shareholder, Wright & Greenhill, P.C.
  • “Maybe this man’s degree is written in crayon."
    StupidEvilBastard.com
    StupidEvilBastard.com
  • “With the flourish of a pen, Mark Pulliam makes bad guys rhetorically bleed and weak guys physically cringe. It's awesome.”
    Michael Quinn Sullivan
    President & CEO, Empower Texans
  • "Mark Pulliam, writer and thinker extraordinaire, has a new blog. Make sure to visit and register. Mark Pulliam's new blog is a thing of wit and intelligence."
    Bradley J. Birzer
    Professor of History, Hillsdale College, President of the American Ideas Institute, and editor at large of The Imaginative Conservative
Featured In

Sign up for updates

Get the latest updates, news, and alerts directly from the source.
We promise, we don't spam.

Featured Tweets

Worse than sore losers. https://t.co/1mr9ut7knH
- Monday Nov 19 - 2:43pm