AP featured image
Stephen Roberts, with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), holds up a sign against Mark Janus during a rally outside of the Supreme Court, Monday, Feb. 26, 2018, in Washington. The Supreme Court takes up a challenge in a case that could deal a painful financial blow to organized labor. The court is considering a challenge to an Illinois law that allows unions representing government employees to collect fees from workers who choose not to join. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Government employee unions, like many private-sector businesses, are dealing with considerable economic uncertainty during the ongoing COVID-19 scare.

The difference is, their wounds are entirely self-inflicted — and they predate the pandemic by almost a year and a half.

June 27, in fact, marked the two-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court affirming in Janus v. AFSCME that mandatory dues and fees in the public sector are a violation of the workers’ First Amendment rights.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of public employees across the country have left their union, keeping an average of $800 annually in their paycheck when they go. 

Defection rates along the West Coast have been particularly high, mostly because workers there are the subject of an aggressive outreach and education campaign, as well as a robust litigation operation. With the support of the Freedom Foundation — a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy organization with offices in five states — more than 75,000 government employees have cut ties with their union over the past two years in Washington, Oregon and California alone.  

In Oregon particularly, some of the state’s largest government unions have lost more than 30 percent of their membership since the groundbreaking decision.

Obviously, losing a third of membership is troubling to just about any business model, but when your business is funded entirely by contributions from said members, it’s panic-inducing and game changing.

Instead of adapting to changing times and making membership more appealing to potential consumers, however, unions have seemingly defaulted back to their criminal roots.

Just this week, the Freedom Foundation filed yet another lawsuit against the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in Oregon alleging forgery. Unable to convince a public employee of the benefits of membership, the suit alleges, union operatives simply signed on the dotted line for them and continued stealing dues out of the employees’ paycheck.

The Freedom Foundation’s latest lawsuit brings the total of alleged forgery lawsuits against SEIU in Oregon to four, 12 active lawsuits we have up and down the west coast, and one lawsuit the unions already settled.

This blatant disregard for the law and constitutional rights of public employees cannot be explained away as an accounting error. Rather, it represents a clear pattern of criminal behavior — likely ordered by union leaders to counter major losses.

And the fact that we are seeing such a spike in forgery cases right now is especially despicable.

While the United States is still in the midst of the worst economic downturn in more than a decade, with more than 13 percent of Americans still out of work, government unions have resorted to stealing money from the paychecks of the very people they’re supposedly charged with looking out for so they can continue funneling it to the same liberal politicians who want to keep America shut down and out of work.

By now, this should come as a surprise to no one.

The pandemic and the events that have followed have made several things very clear to the American public — mostly that there are two sets of laws in America.

In one America, rioters vandalize, loot and burn businesses to the ground on national television with absolute impunity. They are even allowed to take over several city blocks, ban first responders from helping those with medical emergencies, and desecrate monuments and statues with red paint and profanities.

In a separate America, well-meaning business owners are fined tens of thousands of dollars and jailed for trying to go to work and provide for their family. Houses of worship were forcibly closed for months and the number of forced mask edicts upon the law-abiding seem to grow by the day.

Laws are no longer applied with any sense of justice, but rather by what would advance the current political narrative.

SEIU and government unions at large are simply doing what they’ve been taught. When you don’t get what you want, take it by force. They are literally looting the paychecks of the hardworking public employees who have kept our states running throughout the pandemic. 

Having bought and paid for the attorney general in Oregon and many other states they, too, have been privileged with operating with impunity under a separate set of laws.

The Freedom Foundation is committed to seeing to it that this is no longer the case. We will continue to meet them and fight them every step of the way, as we all fight for a freer and fairer way of life.

Jason Dudash is the Oregon state director of the Freedom Foundation, a free-market organization committed to helping free public sector employees from union tyranny.