From August 14–20, a coalition of 102 groups in 42 states are banding together to celebrate National Employee Freedom Week (NEFW). NEFW celebrates right-to-work reforms across the nation and aims to inform union workers about their right to leave a union without loss of employment, salaries, benefits, or seniority.
Millions of workers currently reside in states or districts where they are required to pay dues or fees to a union as a condition of employment. Others are shackled because of “drop” periods that secretly lengthen union membership or, worst of all, mislead people to believe joining a union is the only option available.
In a 2015 Somewhat Reasonable article, Heartland State Government Relations Manager Logan Pike argued union workers are often misled into paying for representation they may consider unwarranted or political contributions that oppose their interests and viewpoints. “Union members usually can leave their union only during a narrow, two-week window at the end of a three- or four-year contract. Labor unions often hide these opt-out provisions deep inside wordy contracts,” said Pike. “Other workers remain in unions believing that will advance their careers, unaware that alternative professional organizations provide many of the same services, often with better benefits, at a fraction of the cost of union membership.”
Paul Kersey, the director of labor policy at the Illinois Policy Institute, celebrated labor freedom in a 2014 article, in which he wrote of the significant value of NEFW. “Why is this week so important?” wrote Kersey. “Because no one should feel forced to pay money to a union as a condition of holding a job. Whether you support unions or not, everyone deserves to know what their rights are so they can make a choice that works for them.”
The National Employee Freedom Week website displays alternative options for union members who don’t want to send large chunks of their hard-earned salaries to union bosses. Workers should have the freedom to join a union if they so choose, but they also should be allowed to opt out at any time, whenever they determine the union ceases to represent their interests.
What We’re Working On
Budget & Tax
NFL Star Calls for End of Stadium Subsidies
Ben Johnson wrote in Budget & Tax News about a recent ESPN interview with Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. Sherman, a star defensive player in the National Football League, voiced his opposition to taxpayer-funded stadiums for private sports teams. Johnson examines the stadium subsidy issue in greater depth, citing J.C. Bradbury, an economist and professor of sports management at Kennesaw State University, who says sports stadium subsidies don’t just fail to provide economic benefits to communities, they often damage cities’ economic health. “Economists have conducted many studies of the economic impact of stadiums, and the clear consensus is that they don’t just not meet the promises of big returns, but the returns are normally negative,” Bradbury said.” Read more
Texas Lawmaker to Revive Bill Establishing Education Savings Accounts
Kenneth Artz, news reporter for The Heartland Institute, writes on Texas state Rep. Don Huffines’ (R-Dallas) continuing efforts to bring an education savings account (ESA) program to the Lone Star State. Huffines originally introduced Senate Bill 1178, which would have directed the Texas Education Agency “to conduct a study on implementing an education savings account program,” in 2015, but it was defeated in the state’s lower legislative chamber. He plans on introducing a similar bill in 2017. “If public schools don’t work, it’s important to give the kids an option,” Huffines said. “One size doesn’t fit all, so parents and students need to be empowered with the most comprehensive school choice plan possible.” If an ESA bill is signed into law, Texas would become only the sixth state to have adopted this important reform. Read more
Energy & Environment
Podcast: Exposing the Mad War on Energy
In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Kathleen Hartnett White, director at the Armstrong Center for Energy and the Environment at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, speaks with Managing Editor of Environment & Climate News H. Sterling Burnett. White joins the show to talk about the new book she co-authored with Stephen Moore, titled Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy! White says during the interview the present war on fossil fuels is immoral and bad for the environment, and she explains in detail how the two major political party platforms differ on energy and environment issues. Read more
Dr. Jeffrey English: Bring Doctors to Patients with Telemedicine
In this episode of the Health Care News Podcast, Managing Editor Michael Hamilton speaks with Dr. Jeffrey English about the benefits of telemedicine. English says telemedicine is pushing back the new frontier of patient-centered, cost-effective health care innovation. The conversation focuses on why English made the leap to telemedicine, how telemedicine is delivering high-quality health care to patients with restricted access, limitations on telemedicine providers’ ability to care for patients, and how government policies are contributing to or obstructing telemedicine innovations from flourishing. Read more
From Our Free-Market Friends
American Lands Council: Government to Blame for Less Public Access
Access to federal and state public lands remains an important issue around the nation. Public lands are held in public ownership for present and future generations. Only the U.S. Congress can change public land laws, and even if they do pass legislation, the bill still must be signed by the president, who has the power to unilaterally control (and often prevent) economic activity on millions of acres of federal and state public lands. Jack D. Jones, a wildlife biologist with the Montana Bureau of Land Management, argues in this article political rhetoric falls far short of addressing the real issue. “No, it’s not all about an opened fishing access site along the east Gallatin River,” said Jones. “The issue is larger – related to the lands in Montana the majority of these lands which now approach 65 percent are closed off to the public and who closed them.” Read more