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Ask the Patriarch 82
Do you object to union dues?

from Erik Hoffman

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It sickens me that the state of California forces me to pay Union dues. They only way out of this is "religious objection". Does your religion "object to payment of services fees of an "employee organization""? If it does, I want to join.

The Patriarch replies:


The short answer is "No." If that is all you want to know, read no further.

We make a point of stating that the individual is responsible for his or her ethical and moral decisions. We do not dictate to our members.

However, in my view, this issue is not one of ethics or morality. It is one of rights. In a free society, there is a right to freedom of association, or a freedom not to associate. But, one of the realities in a free society is that rights come into conflict. And it would seem that the State of California has determined that the collective rights of the unions take precedence over the rights of individuals. That is one of the prices of living in California, which you have to offset against the benefits.

Many jurisdictions have similar laws. The rationale (which not everyone agrees with) is that if you directly benefit from the higher wages and better working conditions obtained by a union, then you have a responsibility to contribute to operation of the union - even if you choose not to belong. Those who do not contribute are considered freeloaders.

You can find sound arguments supporting this view. You can find sound arguments opposing it. Regardless, it is the law of the state in which you choose to live.

I do find the "religious objection" allowed by California to be objectionable. This indicates that the collective rights of a religious group are more important than the collective rights of a union group. Why should membership in a religious organization give people rights not available to the rest of the public? If a religious group had a sound rationale for opposing union membership, then that rationale would equally apply to any individual.

In actual fact, the real reason some sects do not allow their members to join unions and other organizations is to fully control their members' lives, to forbid them any association other than within that church. If you are willing to surrender responsibility for running your own life to such a sect just to save a few dollars, then I wish you the best of luck.

You do have options. There are numerous non-union employers in California. You do not have to work in a union shop. The USA is the least unionized of all the major indusrial nations with less than 15% of employees in unions. Also, the USA is a big country, and Americans are a very mobile people. Many states have different laws than California on the rights of unions. You are free to relocate. You are also free to attempt to convince your fellow citizens to change the law.

Finally, we invite people to join us because they support our version of agnosticism. Other issues should be irrelevant in making this decision.