Abuses in Government
June 1, 1998
By Daniel B.
An issue of rising concern to many Utah citizens is the
government's role in collecting the political action committee
(PAC) monies for government (public) employee labor unions.
These PAC monies are used to promote political agendas and
influence government. Currently, public employee unions and
other organizations use the government payroll system to
simply and automatically collect PAC monies, deducted from
employees' paychecks. Taxpayers, through this mechanism, feel
that they have become unwilling assistants for PAC
The most prevalent argument for continuing the current
government practice of collecting PAC monies is that public
employees should have the same right to contribute to a PAC
through automatic payroll deduction as any other employee or
group in the private sector. There is, however, a significant
difference between private payroll systems and the government
payroll system: the taxpayer.
Consider the recent decision of the Southern Baptist
Convention. The body determined to boycott the Disney
Corporation because of the considerable resources Disney
funnels to PAC agendas and causes, such as the homosexual
lobby, that conflict with mainstream Baptist values. The
Baptist delegation resolved to exercise their freedom as
consumers by refusing to be patrons of Disney's products and
services, thereby separating themselves from Disney's
disagreeable PAC contributions and political agenda.
No one would deny the Baptists their right to boycott
Disney. American consumers need not support, or in any way
participate in, private PAC collection. However, the American
taxpayer is forced to support, and participate in, PAC
collection for labor unions and other organizations that use
the government payroll system.
The government payroll system is funded by the taxpayer and
is an extension of all taxpayers. Simply, Utah taxpayers
are the collection mechanism for public employee PACs.
Using that system to collect PAC monies for political causes,
often opposed to taxpayer interests, is an abuse of the
system. Force is applied because there is no way for
disgruntled taxpayers to refuse to pay the taxes that fund the
government payroll system.
There are many Utah taxpayers who do not support the
political agendas of prominent public employee PACs and their
associated labor unions. For example, the Utah Education
Association (UEA) and its parent organization, the National
Education Association (NEA), support an extremely liberal
social agenda, including: "family planning, including the
right to reproductive freedom" (NEA Resolution I-13, 1997);
establishment of "on-site child care services" for teen
mothers (NEA Resolution C-7, 1997); and sex education programs
that include birth control, family planning, and diversity of
sexual orientation (NEA Resolution B-36, 1997).
UEA and NEA PACs use the government payroll system to
collect their money and then funnel the majority of it to
support political candidates who tend to favor their
philosophies. UPAC, the UEA Political Action Committee, and
its local affiliates spent approximately $72,000 on Democratic
candidates and approximately $34,000 on Republican candidates
in 1996. This bias becomes even more apparent when considering
that the Utah state legislature is composed of seventy-five
Republicans and only twenty-nine Democrats.
Nationally, of the $2.36 million spent by the NEA-PAC on
the 1996 elections, 98.8 percent went to Democratic candidates
and only 0.08 percent went to Republican candidates. Utahns—taxpayers—who
disagree with these philosophies are forced to collect these
PAC monies for the UEA and NEA agenda.
The tactics used by unions to maintain high contribution
levels to their PACs amplify the misuse of the government
payroll system. For instance, the UEA Membership Enrollment
Form, Revision 494, given to public educators states the
"UPAC contribution in the amount of $14 is included in
the UEA dues amount. UPAC funds are used to help elect
friends of education at the state and local levels. Persons
not wishing to participate in UPAC should contact their
Association Representatives for alternative instructions
before November 15."
This wording introduces an element of intimidation to the
public employee who does not wish to fund the political
purposes of the UEA. If the PAC deduction were truly
voluntary, it would require a separate action to allow it,
rather than an uncertain approval process involving
"alternative instructions" from union representatives.
Government, in essence, currently condones these and other
pressure tactics applied to public employees by labor unions.
This type of government legitimization of coercive tactics has
no place in a free land, nor should the government and the
taxpayer be placed in this compromising situation.
One proposed solution to this inequitable arrangement is to
require PACs to pay the taxpayers back for collecting their
monies. However, taxpayers—who own the collection
mechanism—would still be forced to permit the use of this
resource for PACs. Monetary compensation does not justify this
use of force against the taxpayer. The correct solution is to
remove taxpayers from the entire PAC collection process. This
would allow PACs to "sink or swim" based upon their own
merits, not on the coercive influence of government
intervention. State legislators should free the taxpayers from
their unwilling role in the collection of these funds. Public
employees who wish to contribute to a PAC of their choice may
write out a personal check. Members' private donations will
demonstrate how legitimate, acceptable, and attractive these
PAC agendas really are.
# # # # #
Daniel B. Newby wrote this article while
employed as Director of Operations & Development for the
Sutherland Institute, a Utah-based public policy research
Permission to reprint this article in
whole or in part is granted provided credit is given to the
author and to the Sutherland Institute.
Disclaimer: Newby left the Sutherland Institute
on January 28, 2003, and has conducted all his efforts since
that time as a private citizen. The Sutherland Institute
has officially and publicly disavowed and distanced itself
from Newby's political views, tone, and activities. As a
courtesy to the Sutherland Institute, we have posted
their e-mail on the
If you have comments or suggestions, please
email us at email@example.com.