Governors Must Take Action Now to Soften the Blow of the Economic Shut-Down

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

In an effort to contain the spread of the COVID 19 virus, governors are imposing harsh measures that are dramatically impacting our economy and jobs. While well-intentioned, these actions are devastating our nation’s economy and working families.


Our nation’s leaders are now starting to take steps to provide economic relief, but to the tune of trillions of dollars that will ultimately be paid by our country’s hardworking taxpayers. More can and should be done, which is why the Freedom Foundation is calling on governors across the country to immediately implement a three-month suspension on dues collections from public employee paychecks.

Political discourse often rails against wealthy corporations to pitch in and do their “fair share.” Well, big government unions are wealthy. Small businesses and working families are disproportionately shouldering the burden of the economic shutdown. It’s time for our nation’s rich, public-sector unions to do their part to help carry the load.

Across the country, government unions take between 1.5 and 2.5 percent of public employee paychecks for membership dues. In Washington, Oregon, California, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, where the Freedom Foundation has in-state operations, the average annual dues are approximately $800.

Stopping the dues collection for three months would put more than $460 million back in the pockets of first responders and other public-sector workers at no additional cost to the taxpayer.


Governors must cease these deductions, just as they’ve shut down businesses in practically every sector.

Just watch what happens when workers are able to keep more of their own hard-earned dollars.  The domino effect will be powerful in helping individuals and small businesses.

Every monthly dues deduction unions pull out of a taxpayer-funded paycheck is a tank of gas, or a week’s worth of groceries, or a needed medical prescription. And over the course of three months, it could be the difference in making that mortgage payment if a spouse in the private sector lost their job.

It’s temporary; it’s not forever. Right now, the American people want and need to be able to work and keep as much of their money as possible.

Government employee unions are sitting on millions of dollars in their coffers, while millions of Americans are worrying over their dwindling bank accounts.

The Washington Federation of State Employees has more than $10.4 million in savings on hand, and the Washington Education Association has more than $15.5 million.

In Oregon, the state school employee union has nearly $4.3 million in its cash reserves while the teachers’ union has more than $10 million. The California School Employees Association has in excess of $46.7 million in cash reserves, while the Teachers Association has amassed almost $90 million.


The Ohio Civil Service Employees Association has $17.4 million, and the Ohio Education Association has over $13 million socked away. In Pennsylvania, the state education association is sitting on cash reserves of $63.4 million, and SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania has more than $9 million.

Rich government unions can afford three months without dipping into peoples’ paychecks. Governors should now take every action possible to soften the economic blow from the shut-down.

And, unlike most government solutions to a problem, it’s free. It won’t cost taxpayers a dime.

Aaron Withe is the national director for the Freedom Foundation, a free-market organization committed to helping free public sector employees from union tyranny.




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