Ontario Catholic Teachers tax their members to fight the evil Conservatives

According to the National Post:

An Ontario teachers union has approved charging its members an extra $3-million to fund a political action campaign aimed at keeping the Progressive Conservatives out of office in the fall provincial election.

The $60-per-member additional fee was passed by 67% of delegates at the Ontario Catholic Teachers Association’s annual general meeting last month in Toronto.

So, somehow, the union is able to unilaterally tax every member $60, because the union leadership has a grudge with the Progressive Conservative party, which hasn’t been in power since 2003.  The 67% of delegates figure is a little misleading, since the only people who voted were the delegates at the meeting, which may not represent the opinions of the membership at large.  Even if 67% of the 45,000 Catholic teachers in the province did agree with the levy, that still leaves almost 15,000 teachers that are being forced to spend money campaigning against a party that they may actually support.

How is it that a union even has the power to impose such a fee on its membership?  What would happen if a corporation told all of its employees that they would be charged $60 to fund a campaign to make sure that Dalton McGuinty loses the coming election?  There would be outrage from all quarters, and rightly so.  I have no problem with the union asking its membership to help fund a campaign, but forcing teacher to pay up with no ability to refuse is unacceptable.

It is situations like this which should cause us to examine the role of unions in society, especially in the public sector.  If a union has the power to tax all its members for a campaign that is only tangentially related to general union business, then it may be tine to start removing some of their power.  It’s time for some reforms to make union leadership accountable to its members, starting first with audited, publicly available financial statements allocating all costs to its various activities, and letting the members decide if they want to fund those activities on an individual basis.

At most, I hope that the disagreeing members take the union to court to prevent things like this from happening again.  At the very least, I hope the next provincial government, whoever they may be, stands up against this sort of extortion.

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