Colo. Gov. Bill Owens (R) terminated state payroll deduction of union dues through an executive order issued in May 2001. Now Owens reports that the Colo. Fed’n of Public Employees has seen its dues collection drop of 50% since the order was issued, prompting the union to lay off its entire field staff of 17 people. Reportedly, such positions are routinely used for political operations. Americans for Tax Reform believes this is further evidence that when unions are forced to collect funds in the same way everyone else has to, many union members choose to not participate.
In a recent UPI interview, Owens stated: “We ordered a review of all the withholdings the state took with their permission from employee paychecks. We withheld funds from paychecks for literally hundreds of reasons. After a thorough review and following state statute, we now restrict those withholdings to just a handful that are clearly in the state’s interest. Among the enterprises we no longer withhold are labor unions. For legal reasons, I’d point out, a labor union member can now go to a bank and get that withholding done where 20 or 30 years ago that was impossible. The result is that we have seen about a 50 percent drop in our state public employee union. They have laid off all 17 of their field personnel. This is going to force that union to be closer to its membership. Clearly, a large number of its members were not willing to pay the annual dues when those dues had to be publicly and directly collected.” [ATR 2/19/02]