FIELD HEARING ON MANDATORY UNION DUES AND THE ABUSE OF WORKER RIGHTS
SUBCOMMITTEE ON EMPLOYER-EMPLOYEE RELATIONS
COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS
HEARING HELD IN SAN DIEGO, CA, DECEMBER 11, 1997
Serial No. 105-24
Printed for the use of the Committee on Education
and the Workforce
TABLE OF CONTENTS
OPENING STATEMENT OF ACTING CHAIRMAN FRANK RIGGS, SUBCOMMITTEE ON
EMPLOYER-EMPLOYEE RELATIONS, COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE *
OPENING STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE LORETTA SANCHEZ, A MEMBER OF THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON EMPLOYER-EMPLOYEE RELATIONS, COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION
AND THE WORKFORCE *
OPENING STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE MARK SOUDER, A MEMBER OF THE
COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE *
OPENING STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE BOB FILNER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM CALIFORNIA *
OPENING STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE RANDY "DUKE" CUNNINGHAM,
A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM CALIFORNIA *
STATEMENT OF JAMES RIGHEIMER, CO-AUTHOR OF THE CAMPAIGN REFORM
INITIATIVE, FOUNTAIN VALLEY, CALIFORNIA *
STATEMENT OF JOHN MOSES, NASSCO, SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA *
STATEMENT OF KARAN KOOG, McKINLEYVILLE, CALIFORNIA *
STATEMENT OF JANE McGILL, PRESIDENT, SWEETWATER EDUCATION
ASSOCIATION, SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA *
STATEMENT OF NADIA Q. DAVIES, SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA *
STATEMENT OF JACKIE GILES, SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA *
STATEMENT OF BRENDA RENEAU, COMMISSIONER OF LABOR, STATE OF OKLAHOMA *
STATEMENT OF BOB WILLIAMS, PRESIDENT, THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM
FOUNDATION, OLYMPIA, WASHINGTON *
WRITTEN OPENING STATEMENT OF ACTING CHAIRMAN FRANK RIGGS, SUBCOMMITTEE ON EMPLOYER-EMPLOYEE RELATIONS, COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE *
WRITTEN OPENING STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE LORETTA SANCHEZ, A MEMBER
OF THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON EMPLOYER-EMPLOYEE RELATIONS, COMMITTEE ON
EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE *
WRITTEN OPENING STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE RANDY "DUKE" CUNNINGHAM, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM CALIFORNIA *
WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF JAMES RIGHEIMER, CO-AUTHOR OF THE CALIFORNIA REFORM INITIATIVE, FOUNTAIN VALLEY, CALIFORNIA *
WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF JOHN MOSES, NASSCO, SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA *
WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF KARAN KOOG, McKINLEYVILLE, CALIFORNIA *
MANDATORY UNION DUES AND THE ABUSE OF
Thursday, December 11, 1997
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Employer-Employee
Committee on Education and the Workforce,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 1:30 p.m., in San Diego City Hall, Committee Hearing Room, 202 "C" Street, Twelfth Floor, San Diego, California, Hon. Frank Riggs presiding.
Present: Representatives Riggs, Souder, and Sanchez.
Also Present: Representatives Cunningham and Filner.
Staff Present: Peter Gunas, Professional Staff Member; Rob Green, Professional Staff Member; and Brian Kennedy, Professional Staff Member.
OPENING STATEMENT OF ACTING CHAIRMAN FRANK RIGGS, SUBCOMMITTEE ON EMPLOYER-EMPLOYEE RELATIONS, COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE
Chairman Riggs. Ladies and gentlemen, if you would please be quiet and be seated, I would like to convene the Congressional House Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations and call our field hearing to order.
I want to just announce that we are expecting shortly the arrival of two more Members who will be sitting with the Employer-Employee Relations Subcommittee today, Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham of San Diego County, and Congressman Mark Souder of Indiana.
I'm very pleased to welcome my two Democratic colleagues joining the subcommittee today, Congressman Bob Filner, who probably needs no introduction here in his hometown, and the ranking Democrat present, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, of Orange County.
I especially would like to thank our witnesses for making the effort to be here this afternoon. I think we're all aware that the holiday season is at hand. And with the Christmas holiday rapidly approaching, we, all of us sitting on the subcommittee, appreciate the effort that the witnesses have made to be here today.
We are here today to learn from our witnesses about the states on the issue of mandatory union dues. We will discuss the important initiatives moving forward in a number of states -- including Washington, Oklahoma and our home state of California. This initiative arms workers with better information about their rights and obligations regarding union dues payments, and gives workers more control over how their hard-earned dollars are spent by organized labor. This is very much in concert with the Republican agenda of allowing people to keep more of their own hard-earned money.
We are also here today to listen to employees who have, in one way or another, had their rights abused by the union dues collection process in a way that is just plain unfair.
It is the view of all Members of the majority party present today -- and I suspect all Republican Members of the full Committee -- that unions should be required to get written permission from union members before accepting payment of dues unrelated to collective bargaining, contract administration and grievance adjustment.
As Governor Wilson has said recently, and I quote, "This is simply a matter of fairness. The decision as to how and whether the union members' money should be spent on politics must be made by the union member; not by the union leaders."
This is the fifth hearing this committee has held on this issue in the past two years. In each of the previous four, we heard from worker witnesses, one after another, who said, and I paraphrase, "Give me the respect of asking me for my permission before you spend my money for purposes unrelated to legitimate union functioning."
This issue is about the freedom of all men and women to make individual and informed choices about the political, social or charitable causes they support. As I mentioned previously, it's part of our effort to lead America to a new level of freedom and responsibility. We want to do this by returning more money to the people who earn it, and by letting them spend it, not some government official, no matter how well-intentioned, and not a labor union leader.
Workers around the country have described indignities that they have endured, including harassment, stonewalling, coercion and intimidation when they've attempted to exercise their rights granted to them by the Supreme Court 1988 Beck decision. The same workers were unable, under current circumstances, to secure a refund of their own money.
It's very important to understand something. Until unions are required to first obtain the written consent of workers before using their dues for purposes not related to collective bargaining, including political contributions, the constitutional rights promised by the Supreme Court in the Beck decision to America's workers will remain out of reach.
I applaud the hard work being done at the state level to safeguard the rights and paychecks of hard-working Americans. Here in California, as we will hear from one of our witnesses momentarily, some 800,000 signatures were filed last month by the Campaign Reform Initiative to place an initiative, a statewide ballot initiative, on the June 1998 primary ballot.
The initiative would, among other things, prohibit employers from making automatic deductions from an employee's paycheck for political contributions or expenditures without annual written authorization from the employee. It would also prohibit labor unions from using any portion of a member's or agency fee payer's dues for political purposes without annual written authorization from the individual.
A similar law passed in Washington state in 1992 with 72 percent of the electorate; 72 percent of the voters in that election. Before Washington State's initiative 134, the Washington Education Association collected money for its Political Action Committee from 48,000 of its 65,000 members. After passage of Initiative 134 in Washington State, the union could get written consent for contributions from only 8,000 members. That is a rather dramatic drop-off from 48,000 members to 8,000 members.
This is why opposition to these initiatives is so intense. When workers are given a real choice over the purposes to which their dues are put, the bosses of organized labor, the labor union leaders, are shown to be out of step with mainstream America.
The Evergreen Foundation, a Washington State public policy research group, has led the effort to track the implications of the Washington Education Association forcing their members to pay for its political agenda.
In Oklahoma, Commissioner of Labor, Brenda Reneau, despite opposition from Oklahoma's attorney general, cited the Supreme Court's Beck decision in courageously issuing a federally mandated wage poster, which rightly informs employees of their Beck rights. Based on her travels in her state and her recognition that all Oklahoma workers have the right to determine for themselves which candidates or political causes to endorse, Commissioner Reneau has emerged as a highly responsive regulator to the concerns of her state's workers.
We very much look forward to her testimony today. I assure you that some of us in Congress do hear the voices of American workers and share their concerns. The Worker Paycheck Fairness Act, H.R. 1625, was recently approved by voice vote by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
This bill, which is now pending before the House of Representatives, requires that workers, operating under a union security agreement authorized by federal law, give their written consent for any portion of dues or fees which will be used by a labor organization for non-collective bargaining purposes. The bill calls for strong civil relief, by allowing double damages and attorneys fees and costs; the same sort of remedies, by the way, and sanctions provided under the Family and Medical Leave Act in federal law.
This bill also requires posting in the workplace of these rights; more detailed financial reporting by unions; and, makes it unlawful for a labor union to coerce or retaliate against a worker for exercising their rights under the statute.
In the 1960s it took civil rights legislation to uphold and provide rights to American citizens which were afforded by the Supreme Court years before. It will now take congressional legislation to protect and uphold the rights of workers as afforded to them by the Supreme Court's 1988 Beck decision.
Before I recognize the ranking Member, Congresswoman Sanchez, I want to note for the record that we as the majority party in the House and on the Committee apologize and regret any inconvenience caused to the minority by apparently receiving about a week-and-a-half's notice of this hearing.
While we did post notice outside our offices on Wednesday, November 26th, two weeks prior to today, in compliance with House rules, the minority offices were closed that day. That was the Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving. By the time the notice was walked over, the minority staff had already left the building. As a result, the minority did not receive notice of today's hearing until the following Monday after the holiday weekend. We do regret the inconvenience, and assure our colleagues that we were attempting to fully comply with House rules.
[The statement of Mr. Riggs follows:]
WRITTEN OPENING STATEMENT OF ACTING CHAIRMAN FRANK RIGGS, SUBCOMMITTEE ON EMPLOYER-EMPLOYEE RELATIONS, COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE – SEE APPENDIX A
Chairman Riggs. At this point in time, I recognize Congresswoman Sanchez.
OPENING STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE LORETTA SANCHEZ, A MEMBER OF THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON EMPLOYER-EMPLOYEE RELATIONS, COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE
Ms. Sanchez. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for the opportunity to bring some balance to today's activities.
I also want to thank the witnesses for being here today. I hope the stories that you will relate will not be misunderstood or exaggerated beyond the fact that they are your personal experiences only. Your views may or may not reflect the views of millions of other union members in this country.
Unless you grew up in a union household as I did, many Americans may not understand the huge advantages in the workplace secured for all workers as a result of unions. If you have a pension, thank the unions. Thank them also for the minimum wage. Thank them again for the eight-hour day, the 40-hour workweek and overtime pay. Thank unions for workplace safety, grievance procedures and, perhaps most importantly, health benefits.
Before unions, we did not have maternity leave, let alone paid leave and prenatal care, or even paternity leave. These are just some of the improvements all working families enjoy because of the struggles by union families on their behalf.
Understand also that unions are one of the most democratic organizations known in our free society. Union leaders are selected by election from the membership. Bylaws and policies are approved by majority vote by representatives elected to their posts through democratic elections.
Multi-national corporations, on the other hand, are not democratic, yet they also contribute to political candidates, to political parties, and finance issue advocacy campaigns.
And in one sense, they are not even American. It was reported last week the news corporations of Rupert Murdoch's, a famous supporter of Republican causes, paid only 7 percent in federal taxes. That's less than a third of what American rivals Disney and Viacom paid. And I have not seen any hearings called on that issue.
Our churches are not as democratic as our unions. The Boy Scouts, the Red Cross, locally appointed school boards and even the ivory towers of our universities could all learn from unions about giving greater voice and empowerment to those they represent or serve.
Some will suggest all unions are corrupt because a few union officials have been charged or even convicted of criminal conduct. Such condemnation is not the American way. We all sympathized with the Red Cross when its leader was found to have embezzled charitable funds. We do not condemn all Republicans because one Republican Member admits to lying to Congress and pays a $300,000 fine, nor when another Republican pleads guilty to campaign finance violations. It is un-American to indict any group with a broad brush for the sins of an individual.
What we have here today is a media event; an event meant to gather attention for a bill that has only one true purpose. This bill attacks a group that does not support the majority party in Congress with sufficient financial resources. That is a basic fact.
We are not here gathering data from experts, from academicians or those who have studied the union movement in the country. This is not a balanced nor a sincere effort to gather facts. It is a staged presentation meant to create the false impression that union members do not support the political activities of their national unions.
The purpose of this bill before us is to create such an administrative burden on unions and such enormous costs that they will not be able to do anything else but solicit permission from every member on every decision. It would not only hamper the free speech rights of unions and their members, it will undermine their efforts to effectively represent workers in collective bargaining and workplace disputes.
This bill is bad policy. It makes no sense. It is an administrative nightmare. To illustrate my point, I have drafted a companion bill virtually identical to the language in the bill before us. The only difference is that when the majority bill talks about workers, my bill refers to taxpayers. When the majority bill talks about unions, my bill substitutes the words "Internal Revenue Service." And the practical effort of my draft bill is to require the IRS to seek the permission of every taxpayer before spending any federal tax dollar on any policy or program of the government which that taxpayer does not support.
And I think we're going to pass for now --
Chairman Riggs. Let me ask the gentlelady to yield so I can announce to the audience that I know this is a somewhat contentious issue that generates a lot of emotion on both sides. Today's hearing is intended to be fact finding in nature and balanced within the rules of the House.
I just want to tell our audience that while we're very, very glad that you're here, House rules do not permit a display, or any kind of showing of support on one side or the other. So we would ask our witnesses to conduct themselves accordingly as we conduct ourselves under the same rules. Thank you for being here. It will also allow us to have a little bit more time. I apologize for having to interrupt the gentlelady.
Ms. Sanchez. If you oppose the B-2 bomber, you can tell the IRS to refund you that portion of your taxes that would go to fund the production of the B-2. If you oppose AIDS research at the Center for Disease Control, order up your refund check from the IRS. If you think we should have wide-open borders and no crossing checkpoints here in San Diego, tell the IRS you want your taxes back. If you don't think that Congress is doing a good job, get your share of congressional appropriations refunded to you.
I hear some laughter. Of course, you immediately understand this draft bill is unworkable. It is bad public policy. It would grind the government to a halt. Some of the more extreme elements in our society might just go for the plan. I wouldn't. And I'll bet that I could not get a single co-sponsor in Congress for my bill, if I tried; with the possible exception, of course, of Mr. Traficant.
However, I'll bet there's a pollster who would find 80 or 90 percent of Californians would support my bill if it were a statewide ballot initiative. Who would not want their taxes reduced; especially for things that they did not support?
The lesson is, you can dress it up with patriotic-sounding language, put a few forums together and make it sound like folks are being cheated, and the voters will support it. The bill before us has a patriotic title. It sounds good, but it is no different than my IRS bill. The only difference is that one party in Congress likes this idea because it attacks a group of political opponents who differ with most of them most of the time. The last time I checked, we had not repealed the Bill of Rights, nor congressionally punished any group in America for exercising their free speech rights.
No group of elected officials or politicians would dare impose the standard on themselves. Is there a single co-sponsor of this bill who would support an amendment to require every Member of Congress to go home and get a referendum from the voters on how they should vote on spending your tax dollars in 13 different appropriation bills? Would members’ support having their district approve their personal office budgets? Should the Chairman be permitted to spend taxpayer funds on four newsletters? Two newsletters? No newsletters?
While we are here debating this partisan political attack on one of the most democratic institutions in our country, we are not doing more important work. Americans care a great deal more about their own paycheck than the internal politics of unions. They want to know what Congress is doing to stop corporate raids on their pension funds. They want a reform so that spouses are fully entitled to pensions earned by a deceased wife or husband. They want the minimum wage brought up to date. They want to know what we are doing to make education better, more accessible and more affordable.
Earlier this year, Mr. Chairman, the majority pushed through a bill that granted more power to employers in deciding whether to pay overtime wages or provide comp time to workers who put in extra hours. With a handful of exceptions, your party opposed my amendment and others that would have given an equal voice to the employee to decide if they needed the money or comp time in exchange for their extra efforts. The bill that passed even let the employer decide when comp time could be used.
I wish that the concern for union members and their liberties that is being expressed today had been present at that time. It is because of the Majority’s unanimous opposition then to the basic fairness of giving the worker a voice in decisions affecting his or her life that I have grave concerns about today's events. For that reason, I intend to ask each witness his or her views on the Republican comp time bill and other workplace issues such as pay equity, minimum wage and pension security.
I strongly believe that Americans are losing faith in this Congress because of the enormous amount of time, money and energy wasted on political attacks against political opponents. They want us to get to work on the country's problems. They do not want a subpoena Congress as Speaker Gingrich promised, or an agenda to defund the left, as he called it.
Hopefully, my questions to the witnesses will elicit some information that will be useful to us when we get back to work on the country's problems. I hope everyone understands that without unions representing American workers, even those who are not members of a union or pay no dues, the voice of workers in Congress will not be heard above the din of corporate lobbyists and cocktail receptions for business PAC directors. All sectors of our society deserve the chance to be heard. The founders insisted upon it.
And to quote Thomas Jefferson in words that encircle the memorial erected by our nation in his honor, "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against all forms of tyranny over the minds of men."
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
WRITTEN OPENING STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE LORETTA SANCHEZ, A MEMBER OF THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON EMPLOYER-EMPLOYEE RELATIONS, COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE – SEE APPENDIX B
Chairman Riggs. We are small in number. I see that Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham has arrived. I want to welcome him and invite him to join us here. Since we are small in number, it's my intention to give each member present today the opportunity to make an opening statement.
And at this point, I'll recognize -- and by the way, ladies and gentlemen, I have to apologize. I didn't introduce myself. I'm Frank Riggs, and I represent the First Congressional District of California at the opposite end of the state, the north coast of California.At this time, I would like to recognize Congressman Mark Souder.
Mr. Souder. Mr. Chairman, I would like the clock to go for five minutes. I know that the Chairman and the ranking Member are using it longer than five minutes, but I think it's really important in our questioning that we stick within the five minutes.
Chairman Riggs. The chair would appreciate it if Members would try to keep their comments within the five-minute time limit.
OPENING STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE MARK SOUDER, A MEMBER OF THE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE
Mr. Souder. I represent the fourth district in Indiana. It's a great privilege to be here among all the Californians.
I wasn't originally going to make a statement, but I'm very disappointed in the ranking member's statement. I believe it had many inaccuracies. She has been, in my opinion, at least at the margin, victimized in many of the things that she has done herself; in other words, innuendoes, attacking other people's motives, criticizing why we do things or how, impugning the integrity of the majority.
She, of all people in the United States Congress, has felt a lot of those pressures, and has felt she has been under that attack. She has no right to walk in here and criticize us and imply that our goal is to bust unions. Maybe a few people somewhere want to do that, but that is not what this bill is about. That's what opponents of this bill would like to have it believed.
She made the statement that this is a forum. This is not a forum. This is a congressional hearing. When people come to congressional hearings, they should show the respect of a congressional hearing with Members of Congress at a congressional hearing. They should behave as if it's a congressional hearing.
The minority members would not like us to pass a bill that said everybody in management has to have a forcible deduction, may be notified somewhere in a long form that you have the right to give that money back. We do not make members of law firms give money to political parties involuntarily. We do not have doctors or employees of hospitals have a check-off where the money goes, where a few people make a decision where it goes.
Everybody else in society has the option to determine what candidates they want to support and what candidates they don't want to support, except members of unions. That's what this bill addresses.
It has taken action by Washington and the state and county government to get many protections.
Some of the things that have occurred in the process, such as the union dues check-off, have caused some people to ask questions. As we're seeing in the Teamsters union where a union president elected predominantly with non-American union members, Canadian members, over an American candidate, where thousands and thousands of involuntarily taken union dollars were channeled into the political election process.
That's what we're trying to get to. We're not trying to bust unions. In fact, there would be an informal way that the subtle pressure to still contribute your money to the unions' political action would be similar to what the informal pressure is in management. Probably 50 to 60 percent, in many cases, of the union members, depending on how sensitive the union was to the majority of the members, would still contribute to the political action committee, just like in management, just like in law firms, just like in medicine.
Why should those who make less, who are the least powerful in society, be the least protected? That's what this bill is about. I'm disappointed. I appreciate the passion of the ranking Member, but the facts were not there.
And I yield back.
Chairman Riggs. The gentleman yields back. And thank you for his opening statement.
Congressman Filner, would you like to make an opening statement?
Mr. Filner. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Riggs. Recognized.
OPENING STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE BOB FILNER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM CALIFORNIA
Mr. Filner. And I appreciate the courtesy of allowing me to be at the hearing and participate as a member. And certainly, we welcome you to San Diego; as we call it, "America's Finest City." I personally have spent many hours in this room as a member of the San Diego City Council. So I welcome you to our bailiwick.
Chairman Riggs. I'm tempted to ask him if those are fond memories or otherwise, but I won't do that.
Mr. Filner. You're about to see.
As part of "America's Finest City" credo, we believe, somewhat, in fairness. When I look at the hearing witnesses, I see six to two. I don't consider that fairness, Mr. Chairman.
When I was a member of the committees that worked here, we allowed people whom were in the public to, in fact, give us the value of their testimony. And to balance that, I would hope that you might allow some of the folks in the audience to do that, because this is the home of some of the best and hardest-working employees in America. And many of them are here today.
Some of them asked me to be here to back up Congresswoman Sanchez. I don't think she needs any backup. You can tell by her ability to see these issues clearly that she's a fighter, she's a member -- I'm proud to have her as a colleague. And you can see why they want to kick Ms. Sanchez out of the Congress through the phony investigations that the Republicans are conducting. So you see why we have to make sure that she stays in the House and stays a friend of all Americans.
I read the testimony from the folks who are here, this unbalanced group, and I can see it's America's union men and women who are under attack, as they have been since the Republicans took over the Congress in 1994.
The initiative that is under discussion and the bill that Chairman Riggs referred to, in my view, seeks to muzzle the political voice of the majority, the majority of the union members. By imposing such onerous and costly requirements on unions, it would deny America's working men and women their ability to organize and speak with one voice. In doing so, it infringes on their constitutional right to free speech.
Current federal law, Mr. Chairman -- and I'm sure you know this -- allows union members who disagree with their union's political actions to opt out; to not participate in those actions by not contributing that share of dues dedicated to those activities. The protections are there. The minority's dissent is respected. Never before have we imposed restrictions on the majority to respect the minority's views, desires or wishes.
This initiative would, in effect, muzzle the majority. And Mr. Souder pointed out, he said, "Where else in American society?" I will assure my friend knows that as citizens of this country, whatever democratic organization we belong to, as Ms. Sanchez points out with her bill, we have a right to argue with the majority's views on the budget or any other issue in this organization.
Once the majority decides, as a voluntary member of that organization, as a member of a nation, we must respect the will of the majority at that point. And that's the American way. That's true of every organization that I know about. If you don't like what they do, resign. But if you're part of that membership, then the majority rules.
I find it ironic and hypocritical that the same groups that consistently complain too much about government regulation and oversight are the ones here today that are championing these regulations on America's working men and women. As Ms. Sanchez pointed out, why does this initiative require only labor unions to adhere to these requirements?
How about corporate stockholders? Why aren’t their views given the same consideration? Why are corporations allowed to overlook dissenting views and not offer an opt-off to every single one of their stockholders?
The testimony that we're going to hear today demonstrates the obvious. This initiative targets the voice of America's working men and women who cannot make huge campaign contributions on their own, and whose political muscle is through their union. If proponents are as truly concerned as they say they are about campaign reform and the voice of the minority, they should cooperate with us to produce meaningful and fair campaign finance proposals.
To support partisan initiatives that would muzzle the opponent under the guise of leveling the playing field is insulting and does a tremendous injustice to our democratic political system.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Congressman Filner.
Before I recognize Congressman Cunningham, which will give us balance with respect to the Republican and Democratic representatives from San Diego County participating in today's hearing, I will exercise the prerogative of Chair, very briefly, to respond to a couple of comments that Congressman Filner made.
And I want all of our witnesses and our audience to understand that we are going to be hearing from witnesses who have very strong concerns about current law. We want to know from them why they feel current law is not fair, and how they think current law should be changed.
Congressman Filner did raise, I think, a very interesting point. And that is that at present, if a union member objects to the payment of union dues for purposes other than collective bargaining, that union member has no choice but to resign their union membership. Union members have --
Ladies and gentlemen, I'm going to make this announcement one more time. The last thing I want to do is have this hearing terminated or have the room vacated. Perhaps that is your objective, but, we will operate under what we call regular procedure, regular order. It does not allow our audience to show their sentiments, pro or con, during the course of the hearing.
I'm perfectly happy, as I think my colleagues are, to visit with those people who feel strongly here, but, we want to proceed with our hearing without interruption.
Ms. Sanchez. Mr. Chairman, can I take a couple minutes to --
Chairman Riggs. I'll recognize the gentlelady in just a moment as a ranking Member, unless she has a parliamentary inquiry.
Ms. Sanchez. It was with respect to the comments you just made. I hope you really are not considering turning away the working men and women of the country from this room. I think that would be a terrible media problem for you, personally.
Chairman Riggs. I will reclaim my time since there was no parliamentary inquiry.
Of course, I don't want to do that. Again, I'm asking that our audience conduct themselves in accordance with House rules.
Mr. Souder. I have a parliamentary inquiry. My parliamentary inquiry is that this has, indeed, happened before in Washington. Generally, when the warning has been given, everybody has followed before. I don't recall another hearing, even when it's been on contentious issues, where we have ever had this problem before.
Chairman Riggs. And, not in my experience serving five, now going on six, years in the House, and chairing a House Subcommittee.
Again, I'm appealing to our audience, because I know that there are those who perhaps feel differently from the people who are vocal in the audience. And we wouldn't want those individuals to feel intimidated by the open public expression of sentiment. So that is the reason for House rule. We will proceed under those rules.
I will finish my statement by saying that union members have no right to object to the manner in which their dues are expended. The employee must then apply to the union for a rebate of the portion of the dues not related to collective bargaining and contract administration.
One other point I want to make, and that is, again, on the question of balance, we are here today to try to better understand why 72 percent of the electorate in Washington State voted for the initiative in that state.
Secondly, the latest field poll shows that eligible, registered voters in California surveyed on next year's proposed ballot initiative in California expressed overwhelming support for the initiative. I quote from the Sacramento Bee article. "When those polled were read an abstract of the official ballot summary of the measure, 72 percent indicated support, 22 percent were opposed, and 6 percent had no opinion."
Ladies and gentlemen, when you're in elected politics, and you start hearing numbers, polling numbers, election outcomes, in the 70 percentile or higher, it tends to get your attention. It normally is a pretty clear expression of voter sentiment, how the people feel.
Mr. Filner. Parliamentary inquiry, Mr. Chairman, if I may.
Chairman Riggs. You may state your parliamentary inquiry.
Mr. Filner. I was wondering if you can point out in the House rules where the distribution of the committee testimony must be proportional to some poll in the State of Washington.
Chairman Riggs. That's not a --
Mr. Filner. -- It's 3 to 1 against the 72 percent --
Chairman Riggs. The gentleman will allow me as the Chair to respond.
That is not a parliamentary inquiry. It's a rhetorical question.
Mr. Filner. No, I wanted to know --
Chairman Riggs. We will be happy to cite for you the House rules that allow the majority party in the House of Representatives, as the Democratic party did for 40 years, Mr. Filner, to decide who the witnesses will be at congressional hearings in consultation with the minority --
Mr. Filner. I understand.
Chairman Riggs. The gentleman will not interrupt me as I give him an explanation -- in consultation with the minority who has selected two witnesses for this hearing today.
Mr. Filner. Mr. Souder referred to as the audience as not participating in the rules. I would just point out that if they saw some balance on the witness list, they might act with the same courtesy with which they would like you to act in a balanced hearing.
That would just be my suggestion, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Riggs. The gentleman has made his point.
The Sacramento Bee article goes on to state, "66 percent of the Democrats surveyed favored the measure, the proposed California ballot initiative, compared to 82 percent of the Republicans, according to the poll director." He added that there were -- and I quote him – "no significant differences in approval between union and non-union members."
At this point in time, I'd like to recognize the gentleman from San Diego County, Congressman Cunningham, for his opening statement, if he cares to make one.
OPENING STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE RANDY "DUKE" CUNNINGHAM, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM CALIFORNIA
Mr. Cunningham. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
First of all, let me react to something that my colleague Mr. Filner said in his opening remarks. "We feel it's the right of every American, union or non-union, to know that their vote counts and is not canceled out by someone who votes illegally."
There is documented fraud. And, probably one of the biggest persons abused was Representative Sanchez. There was fraud and waste identified and documented, and, hearings and the investigations went forward to find out how much. I would hope that whether you're union or non-union, you would want to know that when you do go to the polls that your vote is counted and not canceled out by someone illegally.
Ms. Sanchez. Would the gentleman yield?
Mr. Cunningham. I will not yield at this time. You've had plenty of time.
I would say first of all, that when you come and talk about fairness, the unions put $3 million against Helen Chenoweth in Idaho. They put $2 million against J.D. Hayworth in Arizona. They put $4 million against John Ensign in Las Vegas. And, this is prior to any of their campaign opponents putting a single dollar before them.
In many of those cases, union members have come to me when I was chairman of this committee and said, "Duke, that's not right". They have said "We ought to have a say if someone is putting ads against an opponent that we support, our own money is being used."
That's what this is about, and when you talk about fairness, one of the most sacred rights of Americans is the right of free speech. It is included in the very first amendment of our Constitution, and is a right in our Bill of Rights. And I don't think there's anybody in the audience that wouldn't support that.
Closely tied to the right of our democracy is the right to vote and to participate in a political process. It is also in our democracy, people who have the right not to be forced to do something against their will, whether that means voting or contributing to a political party or to a candidate or a campaign. It's wrong. It's un-American. And yet it is a practice of many labor unions today to force working people paying union dues as a condition of their employment to devote part of their dues to political parties and candidates they may not themselves support.
Exit polls tell us about 60 percent of labor union members, who represent about 6 percent of our nation's workforce, supported political party and candidates backed by their union leadership, which was the Democratic party and the Clinton-Gore ticket. But about 40 percent of the union members voted for other parties. Primarily, it was estimated that about 30 percent were Republican, 10 percent were third party; i.e., the Perot ticket, and other candidates for office.
The point is that these working men and women did not support the candidates that were backed personally and financially by their own union leadership with these workers' mandatory compulsory dues and money.
I was a member of two different unions. I felt the same way. If I put my dollars into the union knowing they were supporting me in collective bargaining, that was fine. However, if they wanted to use my dollars in another way that I didn't agree with, like in a political campaign, I felt it was my right to have some say about it. That's what this bill is about.
I yield back the balance of my time, Mr. Chairman. I hope that people on both sides of this issue will look and think about the right of an individual to say where their dollars go -- whether it's for the Democratic party, a third party or the Republican party. This excludes dollars that go towards collective bargaining, which remain in a common pot. That's what's this bill is about, and, that's why I'm here.
My last comment I would say is that we go down, and I go down, almost weekly when I'm back here, down to the shipbuilding/ship repair industry. And I've got people on both sides of the aisle down there that say, "Hey, Duke, don't give up on a balanced budget. Don't give up on saving Medicare. Don't give on up the tax break that we don't want to pay taxes. And don't give up on letting administration cut defense, because that's our lifeline, and it belongs to national security."
Good, hard-working men and women -- regardless of what their political issues are -- deserve the right to have the say where their dollars are used.
I yield back.
WRITTEN OPENING STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE RANDY "DUKE" CUNNINGHAM, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM CALIFORNIA – SEE APPENDIX C
Ms. Sanchez. Will the gentleman yield?
Mr. Cunningham. I would be happy to yield to the gentlelady.
Ms. Sanchez. I just wanted to let you know, Mr. Cunningham, that, in fact, I also voted for the balanced budget. I also worry about Medicaid and Medicare being around. And, of course, I also voted for the Tax Relief Bill.
But I want to really focus on something that you said earlier, which was that labor unions put money -- $4 million -- against Ms. Chenoweth and some others. And I would just like to show you a graph here that shows that business put $200 million against Democratic candidates. This is what labor put. This is what business put.
So when you talk about there being money against your candidates, there's significantly more money against our --
Mr. Cunningham. I yield back the balance of my time.
The issue is not about how much. The issue is if it was used from people that did not want their money going towards those candidates; not the amount of dollars.
Ms. Sanchez. Again, will the gentleman --
Mr. Cunningham. I yield back the balance of my time, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Riggs. We will now proceed. That concludes our opening statements. I thank our witnesses for their patience, and will now proceed to their testimony. I intend to recognize in the following order:
Mr. Righeimer -- I hope I pronounced your last name correctly. By the way, ladies and gentlemen, please correct me if I mispronounce any of your names. Then Mr. Moses followed by Ms. Karan Koog, Ms. Jane McGill, Ms. Nadia Davies, Ms. Jackie Giles --
Is it Giles or --
Ms. Giles. Giles.
Chairman Riggs. Giles. I'm sorry.
Then Commissioner Brenda Reneau, and then lastly, Mr. Bob Williams. All right.
Then at this point, it is my pleasure to welcome and to recognize Mr. Jim Righeimer, who is the co-author, with Mark Bucher of the California Campaign Reform Initiative. Mr. Righeimer resides in Tustin, California.
Mr. Righeimer. Fountain Valley.
Chairman Riggs. Fountain Valley. Just up the road. Thank you for being here. I look forward to your testimony.
Again, we ask our witnesses to comply with the five-minute rule for testimony before a congressional field hearing or committee hearing back in Washington.
STATEMENT OF JAMES RIGHEIMER, CO-AUTHOR OF THE CAMPAIGN REFORM INITIATIVE, FOUNTAIN VALLEY, CALIFORNIA
Mr. Righeimer. Mr. Chairman, Members of Congress, ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for allowing me here to testify today.
My name is Jim Righeimer. I'm here representing the authors of the reform initiative. There are actually three authors, Mark Bucher Frank Ury and myself. On November 13th, less than a month ago, we turned in almost 800,000 signatures to place the California Campaign Reform Initiative on the June 1998 ballot.
This initiative has a very simple intent; it would require that employers and labor unions get written permission, before they can take money for political expenditures out of an employee or member's paycheck as defined by the California Political Reform Act. This permission is to be in writing and renewed every 12 months.
Let me first tell you what this initiative does not do.
This reform does not in any way dictate how unions spend money for political purposes. It does not in any way affect issues advocacy spending. It does not affect in any way unions' First Amendment rights for free speech.
Its only requirement is that the union employees get permission from each and every member before it takes the money for political expenditures or contributions.
The abuses that have taken place in recent years, where labor bosses extract money from their members' paychecks without their permission has become intolerable.
In years past, Congress gave special rights to labor organizations so that they had the ability to negotiate labor contracts for their membership. These rights included federal guidelines to protect labor organizations' abilities to organize members, and the right to collective bargaining. They also include the right to exact compulsory dues from the members to pay for operating the union.
Nowhere in those rights and benefits given by Congress was there the right to collect dues for the purpose of direct political expenditures, such as contributions to candidates and political causes. In California, the only way for a worker to stop having his earnings used for political purposes is to resign from the union and become an agency fee member. The process can be intimidating and very threatening to a member trying not to rock the boat with coworkers, superiors and union bosses.
Although many union members do not want their dues to go to political causes, they are not willing to risk their jobs or job advancement by disagreeing with a superior who is also a union leader. The process of quitting the union over political differences is not worth the risk an individual runs of being labeled by fellow workers as anti-union. Quitting the union is just short of being considered a scab. Union leadership knows of this subtle form of intimidation, and that is why they are about to spend tens of millions of dollars of their members' hard-earned money to stop this initiative from passing.
Union bosses know that given the choice, the vast majority of their membership would not give them their money.
The Campaign Reform Initiative was written to stop the abuses of union bosses using compulsory union dues from their members for candidates and political purposes. Many of those members do not believe in those political causes or candidates.
We, the three authors, became painfully aware of the problem in 1994, when we started a group called the Education Alliance. The organization's sole purpose was to get local school board candidates elected who believed in local control and parental rights of school boards. The teachers union supported none of the candidates. The union had long ago taken control of all the school boards in Orange County.
Control by the unions was so strong that on some boards, all the trustees were either teachers, spouses of teachers or administrators in neighboring school districts. When a candidate whom the union opposed tried to get elected to the school board, not only was the money taken from the members' local dues, but also from the union's state organization.
Races in previous years where $3000 to $5,000 were spent to win a local school board seat, unions were now spending $75,000 to $100,000 to keep a local school board seat. Local grassroots groups trying to make changes in their local school boards could never match the amounts.
But the worst part is that you had teachers who were supporting the non-union-backed candidate, yet money was coming out of their paycheck to support the candidate they opposed.
Spending on candidates with compulsory dues is only part of the problem. California, like many other states, has an initiative process. Here, unions every two years spend money to put initiatives on the ballot. In recent years, they have supported initiatives that raise taxes, float bonds, over-regulate small business, and even legalize marijuana. None of these issues are even the principal purposes of unions, or at least not the reason Congress gave unions the right to collect mandatory dues. Yet mandatory dues are diverted for all these political causes.
In conclusion, it's simply a matter of fairness. It is not right to take a worker's money or to support a political cause for which he or she is opposed.
And polled, most workers who are not aware their money was spent on political causes. Union workers support our initiative 4 to 1. They want a choice on how their money is spent. Congress needs to enact legislation to protect the paychecks of all workers. Congress gave the special rights to collect mandatory dues from union members. Congress now needs to protect workers from having their dues diverted for political causes in which they do not believe.
Thank you very much.
[The statement of Mr. Righeimer follows:]
WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF JAMES RIGHEIMER, CO-AUTHOR OF THE CALIFORNIA REFORM INITIATIVE, FOUNTAIN VALLEY, CALIFORNIA – SEE APPENDIX D
Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Mr. Righeimer.
We now welcome Mr. Moses. And, Mr. Moses, thank you for being here today. You may proceed with your testimony, sir.
STATEMENT OF JOHN MOSES, NASSCO, SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
Mr. Moses. My name is John Moses --
Chairman Riggs. Make sure your microphone is on.
Mr. Moses. My name is John Moses. I'm an employee presently at National Steel and Shipbuilding Company here in San Diego. I started working here on September 26th of 1976. I'm a working supervisor in the warehousing and material department.
When I first started there, I was in the maintenance department. And I went through several negotiations through the years, several strikes. And during some of those periods, I was a shop steward for about approximately three years, representing anywhere from maybe 10 to 20 people at one time.
During our last strike negotiations in 1993, I had at that time started to get some feelings about where my union dues were going. I sent some letters to my business agent, who was also the chief negotiator through the unions at that time, asking for a breakdown of where my dues were going.
I got a letter back saying they did not understand the letter. I explained to them again in another letter that I wanted to know where my dues were going.
I wasn't happy with some of the candidates they were supporting at the time, the causes and issues throughout the county or in the city of San Diego. At that time, I did not receive an answer back to my second letter. And that's when I sent another letter, this time, resigning from the union. And for about the last seven years now, I have not been a member of the local here at the shipyard.
Throughout those years, I always felt intimidated, including somewhat right now being intimidated by being here, testifying at this debate. I do not discount the work that the unions have done in the past. All that I was asking for was where my dues were going; a breakdown of what they were being spent on. And I was not given an answer on that. And that's why I resigned from the union.
I presently have another appointment to be at, so I ask to be excused from this right now, and apologize for not being able to be here for the whole meeting.
[The statement of Mr. Moses follows:]
WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF JOHN MOSES, NASSCO, SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – SEE APPENDIX E
Chairman Riggs. As much as we do wish you could stay, we certainly understand if you have another appointment and need to leave.
Ms. Sanchez. Mr. Chairman, is there a possibility to question him, since he's not going to be here at the end of this testimony?
Chairman Riggs. It would be unusual procedure, but if we could beg the indulgence of our other witnesses -- we did not do any kind of survey to check on their time availability this afternoon.
Ms. Davies. Excuse me, Mr. Chairman. I am an elected official --
Chairman Riggs. Yes.
Ms. Davies. – And, I have a board meeting that I have to absolutely attend in a couple of hours. So I am also pressed for time.
Chairman Riggs. Let me --
Mr. Souder. Mr. Chairman --
Chairman Riggs. Yes.
Mr. Souder. I think you need to let him go. He would be willing to answer written inquiries from the ranking Members.
Chairman Riggs. Yes.
Mr. Souder. I have a parliamentary inquiry. I was a staff director for a committee for a number of years in a previous life. And, for Mr. Filner's benefit, who was elected the same year I was to Congress and housed down the hall from my office on the fifth floor. If there are others here who hear the testimony today, and want to have the comments, Mr. Filner can send the comments to them, as most of these are constituents. In addition, we can leave the record open for a week, as opposed to three days to submit questions. If they send them to me, I'm willing to submit them. I was a minority staff director when we sometimes got no witnesses. Generally speaking, we try to get three witnesses. But, I believe we have means in our procedures to do questioning and get the other information.
Ms. Sanchez. Would the gentleman yield?
Chairman Riggs. The gentleman made a parliamentary inquiry, and then a parliamentary point.
Ms. Sanchez. Would the Chairman yield?
Chairman Riggs. I'll yield to the gentlelady.
Ms. Sanchez. It's fine with me if we are allowed to ask Mr. Moses questions by writing. We'll submit them. And I would encourage the majority side to allow comments through Mr. Filner, as most of these are probably his constituents, although it appears some have come from Orange County, who could submit for the record.
Chairman Riggs. All right. Without objection, we will keep the record of today's congressional field hearing and meeting of the Employee-Employer Subcommittee open for a full week. That will allow time for all of our witnesses to be able to respond in depth to any questions that we pose, or any additional questions that we're not able to pose within the time constraints today.
Mr. Filner. Mr. Chairman, just --
Chairman Riggs. Thank you for being here, Mr. Moses. You are excused sir.
Mr. Moses. Thank you very much.
Mr. Filner. May I just make two corrections of the record of fact?
Number one, I was elected in 1992.
Mr. Souder. Oh. I’m sorry about that.
Mr. Filner. And second, I represent about a quarter of San Diego County, I think. I suspect that the members come from all the congressional districts in the county. And they may not get representation from the other members, but there are other districts as well.
Chairman Riggs. We will now return to regular order and proceed to our next witness, who is a constituent and friend, Karan Koog, from Humbolt County, California, again, from my congressional district, the far north end of the state, northwest California.
Karan, I know the distance that you had to travel. I'm delighted to see you here today. And I'm personally looking forward to your testimony, because I know of some of your experiences from our firsthand conversations. You may proceed with your testimony.
STATEMENT OF KARAN KOOG, McKINLEYVILLE, CALIFORNIA
Ms. Koog. Thank you. Distinguished Members of the congressional committee, I would first like to thank you for the opportunity to share with you some of my experiences as a union member and worker at the Simpson Timber Company in Korbel, California.
My name is Karan Koog. I began working at the Simpson Tree Nursery in January 1990. As a condition of employment, I was required to become a union member 30 days after I became an employee. I remain a member in good standing in the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, Woodworkers Local Lodge W98, AFL-CIO. I served on the plant committee, I was a shop steward, and from November 1996 until my layoff in 1997 of April, I was a warden on the local's board.
There are three issues I want to address today:
The first is the feeling of betrayal I felt from advertisements the national AFL-CIO represented as being from the membership; next was the awareness that I gained from the incident about the Beck rights and the trouble I've had trying to claim those rights; and finally, the mandatory dues issue.
In the 1994 election, my local lodge voted to endorse the Honorable Frank Riggs. And I was stunned the next summer, in 1995, when the AFL-CIO began running radio and television advertisements which questioned and criticized our congressman's positions on policy and legislation. At the end of each commercial was a disclaimer that the advertisement was paid for by the men and women of AFL-CIO.
I was appalled my union dues could be spent not only on a political ideology that I disagree with; but worse, the ads question the congressman our local union had endorsed. This was not an election year.
It was my understanding that if my local union endorsed a local elected official, it would be inappropriate for a national organization to interfere with that decision and with local politics. In this case, what was best for the local rank-and-file members was completely ignored by the national organization.
I personally felt the position of the AFL-CIO should have been noncommittal, considering the endorsement of our union; furthermore, I was offended, as a dues-paying member, because my opinion wasn't requested or respected before the national organization attacked my local-elected representative.
Since this particular representative has worked tirelessly on behalf of the jobs and working families of our area, this action seemed especially reckless and inappropriate. It was an acute feeling of betrayal that began the process that brought me here today. I began by writing a letter in response to an article I discovered in the U.S. News and World Report. I sent the letter to the organization listed in the article, with a copy to my congressman and my local lodge.
Congressman Riggs' office responded by informing me of my Beck rights. I then attempted to find out more about those rights through my union. I learned that both the long-time shop steward, who was normally helpful, and the vice president of the union didn't know what I was referring to. I shared the little I had learned with them. And the vice president admitted he had heard something like that once; however, he really didn't know what it was about or how one would go about finding out how to prohibit dues from being used for political purposes.
The barriers to information that I faced were enough to stop me from pursuing the matter further. The Beck decision states that employees who work under a union security agreement and who are required to pay union dues as a condition of employment may not be forced to contribute, through such dues, to union support of political, legislative, social or charitable causes with which they disagree. They may only be required to pay dues related to collective bargaining, contract administration and grievance adjustment necessary for performing the duties of exclusive representation.
The Beck decision affirms my right not to have my hard-earned dollars spent on a political agenda I disagree with. It has been obvious the local and myself had no knowledge about the Beck rights, contrary to what the national association reports.
I would like to address also the subject of mandatory dues. Our contract does state, in Section 3.01, "All employees of Simpson covered by this agreement shall, as a condition of employment, after 30 days become and remain members of the union to the extent of keeping paid all regular initiation fees and regular monthly dues as set by the union";.
And in 3.02, "When any employee required by this article to become a member or maintain membership in the union fails to do so in accordance with the NLRA, the union may notify Simpson in writing, requesting the discharge of such employee. Simpson shall have three working days from receipt of such notice to discharge such employee."
That is the contract we work under. And to my best knowledge, we must be union members to work at the tree nursery; therefore, I thought I had no choice but to be a union member or I would lose my job and any rights I have acquired.
Discovering I have no control over my hard-earned money leaves me feeling disenfranchised and misrepresented, since I know it's going to support a paid political program with which I disagree. I felt taken advantage of. My trust has been violated.
Remember, in this case, my money was used trying to defeat the very person who fought on the side of the working families. Union dollars, on the other hand, was targeted to help those who advocate the elimination of Timber's jobs; mine included.
In closing, I would like to thank the committee for allowing me to be here today, and for your concern and attention regard this serious issue. It has been an honor to testify before this committee.
And my time's up.
[The statement of Ms. Koog follows:]
WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF KARAN KOOG, McKINLEYVILLE, CALIFORNIA – SEE APPENDIX F
Chairman Riggs. Thank you very much, Karan. I appreciate your testimony, and look forward to being able to have some give-and-take when we get to questions and answers.
Thank you for being here, Ms. McGill. You may proceed with your testimony.
STATEMENT OF JANE McGILL, PRESIDENT, SWEETWATER EDUCATION ASSOCIATION, SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
Ms. McGill. Thank you.
Good afternoon, Chairman Riggs and committee Members. I would like to thank you for the opportunity to be here.
I am a teacher in the Sweetwater Union High School District. For over 25 years, I have taught math to junior and middle school students. I am also the president of the Sweetwater Education Association at this time.
I would like to clarify some things that are getting lost in all the rhetoric about forced unionism and abuse of worker rights.
First of all, union membership is voluntarily. It is not legal under California law to force someone to be a member of a union. If a union member disagrees with how we spend dues money on politics, they can designate that their contribution to our PAC goes to a general fund; or if they wish, they're free to resign their membership. We are just like any other voluntary organization.
Non-members can be required to pay certain costs related to collective bargaining. They cannot be required to pay for the political part of our program. And if requested, that portion of the dues amount is rebated to them.
My second point is that we are a democratic organization. Decisions about how we spend money are made by democratically-elected representatives of the membership. As in every democratic organization, not everyone agrees. But the principle of majority rule is still the basis of democracy.
Among all the voluntary democratic organizations in this country, why are unions being singled out? The American Medical Association is a voluntarily democratic organization. It spends money on politics in ways that not all of its members support; yet no one is asking the AMA to get a yearly affirmative declaration before it can spend dues money on politics.
The same is true of the National Rifle Association. Once again, it's a voluntary democratic organization, and it spends money on political positions that not all of its members support. No one is asking the NRA to get an annual affirmative declaration.
What about stockholders of corporations? Corporations and big businesses spent over $650 million in the 1996 congressional election. That is over 11 times the amount that was contributed by all labor organizations. Compared to corporations, the contributions of labor organizations are inconsequential. And I am sure that not all stockholders agreed on the political positions or candidates that these donations went to support. Yet no one is asking corporations to get an annual affirmative declaration from their shareholders before they can use shareholder assets for political purposes.
You may ask what is wrong with requiring such an annual affirmative declaration? After all, shouldn't we ask our members about how their dues are spent? That might be a good idea. We might consider it. But we certainly don't need big government telling us whether or not we should do it; especially since similar organizations are not being made to do the same thing.
It is a fact of American political life that to participate in the debate on public policy, you have to be involved in the political process. Teachers and public education have a lot at stake in the public policy debate. The only way that my fellow teachers and I can participate in a meaningful way is by dedicating a portion of our dues to this purpose. We use this money to advocate and lobby for lower class sizes, more funding for education, and for badly-needed money that is necessary to rebuild and refurbish school facilities.
We also make contributions to candidates who support public education. To single out unions is neither fair nor just. It is an attempt to create an unlevel playing field that benefits one group at the expense of another. In our case, we believe it is meant to silence our voice in the debate on public policy. And we are the strongest voice in this state for public education. Thank you.
[The statement of Ms. McGill follows:]
WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF JANE McGILL, PRESIDENT, SWEETWATER EDUCATION ASSOCIATION, SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – SEE APPENDIX G
Chairman Riggs. Thank you. Ms. Davies.
Ms. Davies. Yes, sir. I'm going to --
Chairman Riggs. Thank you for being here. You may proceed with your testimony.
STATEMENT OF NADIA Q. DAVIES, SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
Ms. Davies. Thank you. I'm going to try to speak fast. My first language was Spanish, so if I mispronounce something, I apologize.
Mr. Filner. Mr. Chairman, just to ask a parliamentary question, again.
Chairman Riggs. The gentleman has a parliamentary inquiry.
Mr. Filner. Do we have the official residences and addresses of all the people testifying today so we know how to get a hold of them? I mean, is that on the record somewhere?
Chairman Riggs. Let me consult with staff.
Mr. Filner. So we have everybody's residence listed?
Chairman Riggs. I'm told that we do; that is, it would be a matter of public record as part of today’s proceeding.
Mr. Filner. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ms. Davies. Would you start my little light again, please? I don't want to give Mr. Filner any of my time.
Chairman Riggs. Ms. Davies, we're not enforcing the lights that vigilantly, so please take the time that you think is necessary to make your remarks.
Ms. Davies. Thank you very much. I have been involved in public education all of my professional life. I am a licensed teacher, supervisor, administrator and counselor. And I have been very active in my profession, retiring in 1996, after 33 years as a teacher and a counselor in California. I want to add that I was a union member for many, many years when it was voluntary in a democratic way as it should be.
I went to work for San Diego City schools in 1988, and made a conscious decision not to join the teachers union. On or about 1990, the union negotiated a four-year contract that included agency fee. My understanding of agency fee is this:
All certified teachers that fall under the bargaining agreement must join the union either on a full-pay basis or on a reduced fee basis, where less service is provided.
The board agreed to the stipulation by including in the agreement that teachers would not get salary raises for those four years, nor would the union back or allow a strike. The dues, by the way, are deducted from our salary by the school district as a service to the unions. And that's a free service.
Many of my colleagues and I voted against the agency fee, the compulsory fee. But the union indicated that they had enough votes to pass it, and all of us would now be required to join -- or to pay, rather. I therefore became a member against my will.
Sometime later, I found out that I could opt out of the union and still pay for representation. So I contacted union officials and asked that I be allowed to exercise that option. I was told in no uncertain terms that I could not do that, and that I was locked in for the duration of the contract; all four years. Therefore, I had to be a member of the union, fully paying the dues, $600 a year for four years.
In 1994, when the contract expired, I demanded to be exempted from membership. I wrote the letters required by law, but somehow they kept getting lost or, in the words of the union official that I was dealing with, were not timely, as the window was only from June 1st to the 15th.
I wrote several letters that, according to the union official that I was dealing with, were never received or were not worded properly or were not within the timetable prescribed by law. I kept calling the union office at least three or four additional times to find out the status of my request.
Finally, in desperation, I wrote another letter, and had my husband drive to the San Diego Teachers Union office, carry the letter, hand the copy of the original letter, and date- and time-stamp it. That was the only way that I was finally able to exercise my right to withdraw as a member.
The format for the letter was provided by an outside agency, the National Right to Work Office. It was their experience that the California Teachers Association did not fairly represent the amount of money that it caused to provide representation from me, separate from the political activities.
So I anticipated this problem by requesting that my claim for a return of my dues be sent to arbitration. Sometime later, I did receive a report of the arbitration, and did find that the union had over-represented the cost of representing numerous other teachers and me who had filed for a refund. I did receive a refund that amounted to about 30 percent of my dues.
In 1995/96, the Teachers Union struck, and lied to the teachers as to why we had not received any raises the previous four years. So I chose not to strike. And because of this action, I was completely ostracized by the staff with whom I had been working for many years. They never spoke to me again because I crossed the picket line.
The persecution – that is very impolite of the audience -- continues to this day. I was recently elected to a board of education. It is the unions, both classified and certified, which are now recalling me. They have mounted a campaign to gain control of the board seat they lost to the union-backed person that I defeated, destroying the new independent majority that is not union-controlled, which became a reality when I was elected. My election was a shock to the union, as I defeated their endorsed incumbent candidate.
The unions in my district have pledged thousands of dollars to take any board member out of office that will not vote their way, and are using their members and the dues they extract from them as political muscle. I know many of my colleagues do not agree with the way their dues are used for political purposes, and for the purpose of influencing parents and students through their extremely biased and self-serving publications.
As a teacher, I did not always agree philosophically with the union leadership and their political activities; especially when it was my money that they were spending without my approval.
A case in point was Proposition 174, the California voucher initiative a few years ago. After spending all of the PAC money to defeat the state initiative, they needed extra money to fund the campaign. They apparently borrowed money, and then assessed each union member, including myself, an extra fee to pay for the indebtedness for their political action. What choice did I have but to pay? No one asked if I wanted to spend it, or even approved of it.
As an elected official, I think that it is natural for special interest groups to try to get individuals elected. However, when the playing field is so unbalanced because of the ability of unions to collect and spend massive amounts of money through union dues, the system becomes abused, and the taxpayer is no longer represented -- just the special interests. In my case, during my election, the unions funded over half of my opponents' campaign costs. And, I largely funded my own.
In the case of the Vista Unified School District, the Vista Teachers Association was largely responsible for recalling three board members several years ago; again, because they had the ability to tap union members' dues. In my case, the unions are disgruntled because my election to the board has meant that they no longer control the board. Virtually every action taken against me has been made by the union leadership, the union's attorneys or individuals fronting for the unions.
The school disruption at 11 high schools in my district yesterday, which made all of the front pages in the newspaper, was funded and operated by the unions. They would not have this power if they did not have the financial resources afforded them by their ability to take money from the pockets of the membership without the approval of the members.
You cannot separate the issue of dues from union members from political activity. Please listen carefully, it is these very dues which buy Assembly seats, Senate seats, board seats and congressional seats, here in California. They fund all of the lobbying done in Sacramento, in many instances against the wishes and beliefs of most of the members.
It is having to pay these dues against your better judgment, and in contradiction of all democratic principles that empowers the unions to buy, sell and peddle influence, most of the time, in detriment to the welfare of students and taxpayers. These dues give unions the muscle and the money to unduly influence elections without consent or even the knowledge of the majority of the membership.
I defeated the union candidate. And the night that I was sworn in, ladies and gentlemen, I went over to try and shake the hand of the union president, the GEA union president. And she told me that night, "We are taking you out." And that's what they're doing.
And that's why I support wholeheartedly the Campaign Reform Initiative in California.
[The statement of Ms. Davies follows:]
WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF NADIA Q. DAVIES, SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – SEE APPENDIX H
Chairman Riggs. Thank you for your testimony, Ms. Davies. What time will you need to leave?
Ms. Davies. My board meeting starts at 4:30, so I would have to leave here -- what time is it?
Chairman Riggs. Three O'clock.
Ms. Davies. At four O'clock sharp.
Chairman Riggs. You should have the opportunity to have some questions posed to you.
Ms. Davies. Yes.
Chairman Riggs. Ms. Giles, thank you for waiting. Please proceed with your testimony.
STATEMENT OF JACKIE GILES, SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
Ms. Giles. Yes. Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman and distinguished members. I'm Jackie Giles. And I'm a rank-and-file member of a union, Service Employees Local 2028. Although I work for the County of San Diego, Local 2028 represents working people of many diverse occupations, races, religions, lifestyles and political parties. I actively participate in the life of my union. We members elect our leaders. And I have the honor to serve as an elected member of Local 2028's executive board. I am not paid for this service.
All members are encouraged to attend and participate in executive board meetings and general membership meetings. We make our decisions through democratic processes. The members decide how much dues money they should pay, and how that money should be spent. In my union, those members who want to contribute give about $1.50 a month to our political fund. I may not agree with every decision my union makes, but that's the way democracy works when representatives are elected to speak for their constituents. And if I ever disagree strongly with the politics of my local, I have the right to stop contributing to political expenditures.
But for the most part, I agree with the politics of my local. They generally advocate positions I support on workplace and economic issues. They work to prevent our jobs from being contracted out. They work to save daily overtime. They support the prevailing wage, and last year, supported an increase in the minimum wage. They are committed to protecting Social Security and Medicare.
Those aren't exactly controversial positions, but they matter a lot to those of us who work for our living. I appreciate the political work my union does because they fight for me and for my job.
When I learned about the anti-worker initiative plan for California, I obtained a copy and read the proposed changes to our law. The language in it is a far cry from the way it was pitched to the public by the hired signature-gatherers. The supporters of the initiative claim it's about workplace democracy and the rights of union members. But, in fact, it's an attempt by outside political interests to meddle in California politics and manipulate our political process to further their own agenda.
One of those is J. Patrick Rooney, an Indiana insurance executive who has invested millions of dollars in campaigns to elect right-wing candidates and pass school voucher initiatives.
Another is Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, a group currently under investigation for allegedly violating its nonprofit status, according to an article in the Sacramento Bee on November 10th, 1997. Norquist's group accepted $4.6 million from the Republican party, and coordinated with them to help House GOP candidates nationwide in 1996.
The money funding this initiative is coming from extremists all over the country that want to eliminate Social Security and Medicare, and they're supporting anti-worker initiatives like this one throughout the nation.
Even if the initiative was intended to protect union members, it's unnecessary. We already have democratic processes and legal rights to protect us. No one is required to make a political contribution to be a member. And I repeat, any member can opt out of all political contributions any time they choose.
The proponents of this initiative know we aren't foolish enough to do that, so they're trying to make it as difficult as possible for us to continue our voluntary contributions. If we union members don't like the rules as they are today, we can change them. We members are the union. And we don't need big government interfering with the internal democratic processes of our union.
The anti-worker initiative is designed to keep unions from spending money on politics. I assume you have read the fine print. I know I have. I want to keep making political contributions. But the initiative says I would have to sign a form every year, telling my union again that it can use my contributions for politics.
The initiative said the form must be created by a state agency; the Fair Political Practices Commission. But they couldn't start designing it until after the initiative passed, God forbid, in June 1998. Then the FPPC has to distribute the form to the unions.
By the way, that's provided that they make the print the right size, because the initiative also prescribes the point; the size of the print.
We would have to sign the form and return it to the union, who then must send it to the employer, who can then deduct the political fund money from my paycheck and give it to the union to spend.
If you think all that could happen in time for the November elections, you are very optimistic. If the anti-worker initiative qualifies for the ballot and passes, it would be nearly impossible for my union to do political work on behalf of our members.
I can't afford to make big individual contributions towards next November's elections. And I don't meet a lot of politicians on the golf links. If this initiative passes, I lose my political voice. Other than voting, the union's political fund is one of the few ways I can make my voice heard in political decisions that affect my life and the lives of my children and my grandchildren. For less than $20.00 a year, I call that a great deal.
I think of my union's political fund as a sort of political mutual fund for working people. Not many working people can afford the other kind. Wealthy people in corporations already out-spend unions on politics by more than 11 to 1. This initiative would make it 11 to zip. That is simply not fair.
If this initiative passes, it means that big business can pour all the corporate millions it wants to into the November 1998 election. It means that in the important campaigns for governor, state senate and assembly, and other ballot measures, working people and their families might as well be bound and gagged.
The proponents of this initiative never asked me, a rank-and-filer, if I wanted or needed their so-called help. I would have told them what we really need: better care for our children and elderly parents, and better healthcare options, among other things. I would have told them that we don't need or want more government forms to fill out, more red tape, and more interference in union decision-making.
This anti-worker initiative is part of a well-orchestrated national plan to silence the voice of working men and women. The truth of it is, the proponents of this initiative want to shut us up and shut us out. They should be honest enough to admit it.
WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF JACKIE GILES, SAN DEIGO, CALIFORNIA – SEE APPENDIX I
Chairman Riggs. Thank you very much for being here, Commissioner Reneau. We look forward to your testimony. Please proceed.
STATEMENT OF BRENDA RENEAU, COMMISSIONER OF LABOR, STATE OF OKLAHOMA
Ms. Reneau. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the panel. I'm honored to be part of the important discussion regarding the unfair process by which individuals can be forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment. I'm also pleased to be invited to share my experience on this issue since being elected in 1994 as Labor Commissioner for the State of Oklahoma.
Twenty years ago, I learned firsthand of the consequences of forced unionism. As an employee of a large utility company, I was given the option to pay up or be fired, which was really not an option at all.
In the decade prior to being elected Labor Commissioner, I worked for a construction trade organization, where I was eventually elevated to the position of executive director. In this capacity, I was responsible for knowing and understanding federal and state labor law and workers' rights. As director, it was my job to then explain these statutes and their impact to our member contractors, third journeyman and apprentices.
As Labor Commissioner, I must understand and enforce the labor laws of my state. I have made it a priority to make sure that workers, regardless of any labor affiliation, know their rights. In the private sector, I was often frustrated at the inability to obtain information from the Department of Labor. As a former union member myself, I know the rank and file are kept in the dark, with little to no explanations of their member rights.
A recent poll of 1,000 union members found that only 1 in 4 with at least 20 years of membership actually knew of their rights, or the right to request a refund of dues spent on political activities. Of those with less than five years of membership, the percentage dropped that were aware of their Beck rights to 1 in 10.
I find this figure not only alarming, but also typical of the policy of labor union bosses when it comes to informing members of their workers' rights. A union member kept in the dark is a continual cash cow for a union boss.
To begin addressing this problem, I introduced Beck rights language into the minimum wage poster in Oklahoma. This action brought the ire of a labor union-backed lawmaker who sought and received a state attorney general's opinion declaring the poster unlawful, allegedly for including information not mandated by law.
Last week I filed suit in state district court challenging that opinion. And I'm seeking a temporary injunction blocking the opinion, which is presently prohibiting the poster distribution. If unsuccessful in the courts, I will persist for statutory authority through legislation.
The fear of the old guard, those individuals entrenched in compulsory unionism and its socialistic dogma, is that informing members of their Beck rights will deplete the union coffers and their ability to influence the political arena. The fear is not misplaced. That same poll of a thousand union members found that when informed of their right to a refund on the portion of the dues spent for political purposes, 40 percent responded that they would, in fact, request their money back.
I offer the following examples to better illustrate the difficulty experienced by two Oklahomans when they chose to exercise their Beck rights. Sadly, because of my own experience, and respectful of the very real intimidation and retaliation of those individuals, I'm obligated to protect their identity.
Union member, "A", has been employed by a national bus company for 29 years. Until last April, this individual had been based out of Dallas, Texas. Because Texas is a right-to-work state, member "A" had exercised his option not to join the transportation union. However, earlier this year, member "A" was transferred to Tulsa, Oklahoma. Because Oklahoma is not a right-to-work state, this man is now struggling with compulsory union dues.
Member "A" is a non-member subject to a union security clause. He has been labeled, by his union, as a fee objector. Member "A" has been threatened with termination, and told the local's non-representational expenses amounted to only 1.2 percent of his monthly dues of $38.90. His union informed Member "A" that as a fee objector, he's entitled to savings of only 37 cents per month. I believe a true, independent audit would reveal this meager amount to be bogus.
Member "A" has written he does not want to belong to, quote, ‘this terrorist labor organization.’ Union representatives have visited the man on the job. He has been charged a mandatory $25.00 arbitration assessment. And, the union has contacted his employer, demanding his immediate termination for choosing not to sign a check-off card and the delinquent assessment charge.
Efforts by the National Right-To-Work Legal Defense Foundation to challenge the union's bookkeeping in arriving at its non-representational breakdown have been rejected by the National Labor Relations Board, compounding the injustice suffered by this employee.
Union member "B," a Teamster, resigned his union membership and requested a refund of non-representational dues in accordance with the Beck decision. In doing so, he asked his local to provide him with notice of the calculation of chargeable and non-chargeable costs, verified by an independent certified public accountant. In addition, union member "B" requested notice of the procedure adopted by the local to place his monthly fees in an interest-bearing escrow account, to be given an opportunity to challenge the local's calculation and have it reviewed by an impartial, third party.
In response, member "B" received a reply, notifying him his monthly dues rate of $42.00 would be reduced by $2.90. The Teamsters union told member "B" that its non-representational activities amounted to only 7 percent of its costs. This is the same union whose ousted president is battling charges for funneling dues money into his own re-election campaign and who has given millions of dollars to support various political agendas, including California’s initiative to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana. They gave member "B" no verification or accounting of the calculation. It's been more than two months since member "B" last heard from his local.
Since the release of the state minimum wage poster on September 1st, nearly 60 union members have contacted the Oklahoma Department of Labor, seeking information about their Beck rights. Consistent with each is the failure of the union official to provide Beck information, the failure of union officials to cooperate with the rank and file, and the failure of union officials to provide an honest accounting to the member.
Codification of the landmark 1988 Beck decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, the California initiative to require prior authorization of union members before spending dues on non-chargeable activities and the Oklahoma workers' rights educational campaign, are worthy first steps in elevating the issue of workers' rights. I want to commend the courage of Congressman Harris Fawell and others in offering H.R. 1625 on behalf of the working men and women of this nation.
Unfortunately, the polarized atmosphere that exists between management and labor officials not only jeopardizes the productivity in this nation, it ignores the common laborer who produces the goods and provides the services vital to that productivity.
Labor unions once existed to advance the interest of its members. Today, however, those members are often used as a weapon to advance the special agenda of the labor officials instead. The end result is often a no-win situation by which companies are held hostage, union members are kept isolated, and the public is damned.
The time has come for the Depression Era mentality from whence labor unions grew to be put where it belongs; in the past. The time has come for union member interests and worker interests to again be placed at the forefront. The big labor boss, symbolic of an aging dinosaur, serves only to perpetuate its own existence, to the detriment of everyone and everything else.
The interests of union and non-union workers alike will best be served by placing Beck language into federal law. A union boss who violates a member's Beck rights should be held accountable and pay a steep price for breaking the law. It's time for the federal government to stand with the rank-and-file union member and repeal the pay-up-or-be-fired mandate in favor of a new mandate for union officials; refund the dues, be accountable for your actions, and follow the law or go to jail.
As members of Congress, it's your obligation to hold union bosses individually accountable for violating rank-and-file members' Beck rights. This country did not achieve greatness by promoting and contributing to the ignorance of its citizens. America achieved greatness by encouraging and fostering the intellect, the ideas and the abilities of her citizens. The same is true of American's workforce. Given the chance, there can be no doubt what an informed workforce will aspire to and achieve.
And I thank you very much.
[The statement of Ms. Reneau follows:]
WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF BRENDA RENEAU, COMMISSIONER OF LABOR, STATE OF OKLAHOMA – SEE APPENDIX J
Chairman Riggs. Thank you very much, Commissioner Reneau, for your very powerful and eloquent statement. I also want to thank you also for reminding me.
I was remiss at the outset, ladies and gentlemen, not to recognize our missing colleague, Congressman Harris Fawell, who is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations. I'm standing in for him today. I am one of his counterparts, because I chair the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and Families, under the full Committee on Education and the Workforce.
Ms. Reneau. Mr. Chairman --
Chairman Riggs. He is the author of the bill which is the subject of our hearing today, and which, as the Commissioner pointed out, would effectively codify the Beck decision.
Ms. Reneau. Yes, sir. I have a telephone call that I had made a commitment to at this time. May I be temporarily excused and immediately return?
Chairman Riggs. Of course, we understand and hope that you will return promptly.
We now turn to our last witness, Mr. Bob Williams, the executive director of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation in Olympia, Washington. Mr. Williams, thank you for waiting to be last. At least in the opening round of testimony, that gives you the opportunity to have the final word. Please proceed with your testimony.
STATEMENT OF BOB WILLIAMS, PRESIDENT, THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION, OLYMPIA, WASHINGTON
Mr. Williams. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the committee. I am Bob Williams, the president of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, a state-based public policy research organization located in Washington State. I have been a certified public accountant, a government auditor of the GAO, and have served 10 years as a Washington State legislator.
I appreciate the opportunity to testify before this committee. George Meany described Samuel Gompers --who is known as the father of unions -- as an individual who formed the AFL on the bedrock of volunteerism. Meany said Gompers, quote, "believed with his whole soul in personal freedom, in democratic government and in the ultimate triumph of voluntary human cooperation over any form of compulsion or dictatorship," end of quote.
But as it stands now, union members are forced to contribute to the politics of their union leaders. As you know, Chairman Fawell's Worker Protection Fairness Act and Senator Lott's paycheck protection amendment to the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Bill pushed union involvement in our elections to the center of national debate. Chairman Fawell's bill and Senator Lott's amendment, requiring the consent of union members before money for politics could be deducted from their paychecks, caused a storm of protest from union leaders and political allies.
The Evergreen Freedom Foundation has found itself at the center of the storm. Our state was the first to adopt paycheck protection legislation in 1992 by the way of a state initiative. More than 70 percent of the voters agree that a union member's mandatory union dues should not be spent on politics unless prior annual written consent was obtained. Nevertheless, an investigation by our foundation revealed that the Washington Education Association, the state affiliate of the most powerful union in the country, knowingly broke the law and violated the teachers' First Amendment rights. They knowingly undermined our citizens' rights to free and fair elections. This led to our state Attorney General's precedent-setting lawsuit against the WEA.
The Washington State Attorney General, Christine Gregoire, has charged the WEA with hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign finance violations. The suit also contends that the union improperly financed opposition to school choice and charter school initiatives, and contends the union has severely frustrated the public's right to know who is financing campaigns.
And it is now clear that the National Education Association has also been profoundly and illegally seeking to influence elections in our state using teachers' mandatory dues. As this groundbreaking investigation progresses, it is gaining national attention and is refocusing the debate on campaign finance reform from limiting the First Amendment's rights to insure their protection.
I will briefly give you the basic details of this precedent-setting case, and conclude with critical lessons we have learned for your consideration.
In Washington State, the teachers union annually collects $42 million in dues; five times the amount of the state Republican and Democratic parties combined. We have gone through 30,000 internal WEA documents. And the most we can find that is used for traditional union functions is between 20 and 30 percent. That leaves a lot of money, over $60 million, in election cycle available. Keep in mind this is in one state, one union. Exactly where does the money go? We can't tell.
The WEA currently identifies voters, develops voter lists, organizes get-out-the-vote efforts, bankrolls levy and initiative campaigns and organizes efforts to elect or defeat candidates at every level of elective office.
For example, the WEA's executive director outlined what he called an ambitious plan to commit $1.5 million and 25 to 30 full-time staff, solely to defeat two school choice initiatives on our ballot last year. In addition, political operatives are trained by the NEA and sent where needed.
The WEA in our state is a staff of highly paid attorneys and a professional public relations office. In addition, there's 12 full-time political action team members, eight lobbyists with $1.2 million in lobbying expenses last year, 22 full-time NEA training directors and more than 300 local presidents who are released from their teaching responsibilities to work anywhere from one-half to full-time on union political activities. Most of our contracts are two to three years in Washington State.
The union is indeed a political army. But the alarming fact is its power is bought and paid for by the workers' compulsory union dues, denying the workers the choice to contribute to other people's politics. The money is taken from their paycheck before the workers see it. When our law passed in Washington State, I mentioned we went from 48,000 down to 8,000. 8,000 times $1.00 per month gives you only $182,000 for an election cycle. The WEA in this one program spent 1.5 million.
That's why we're here today. It's the forced dues.
Let me give you an example of what happened after the law went into effect. The teachers union came up with another fee, which they called a community outreach program. This program assessed all the teachers $12.00 per member. It was an illegal fund. Sworn testimony said, quote, "This is an internal ploy to raise more political money." Our state Attorney General charged that this is an illegally operating PAC.
It is also clear that the WEA and its affiliates illegally financed nearly 90 percent of the campaigns to defeat two initiatives, school choice and charter schools last year, as part of their aggressive Campaign '96 plan. We brought these early violations to the attention of the Attorney General, and she's filed a lawsuit.
Since then, a group of union teachers and our foundation has filed an additional suit against the Washington Education Association, specifying seven additional charges. By December 15th, either the attorney general or our foundation will be filing suit against the National Education Association for illegally laundering money to the state affiliate.
Now, how could this happen when the laws are in effect? And I think this is the most important part of my testimony today. In current law, there is nothing for union officials to lose. And, I need to emphasize this point very clearly, union officials have nothing to lose.
First, there's little chance of being caught if they violate the law, which they've done in our state. There's an even smaller chance that they'll be prosecuted. If caught and prosecuted, there's a very small chance that they will be convicted. And if convicted, what's the worst thing that happens? They'll find a union, they'll turn around and raise their dues to pay off the fine.
So we would urge Congress, when we look at the law, to consider five essential parts:
One, we urge you to support the essential truth that no one should be forced to pay for someone else's politics.
Second, to end the practice of using payroll decisions for politics, be it authorized or not. You cannot develop enough laws to get around determined law-breakers.
Third, require the unions to make an annual report, externally audited, available to all of their employees.
And fourth, enact strong penalties for union officials who violate the law.
And last, the use of public facilities for politics must cease. Lawmakers have given only two entities the ability to take the fruits of labor from working men and women, and that is the IRS and labor organizations. And I believe that, again, is why we're here.
Union members must have the ability to give their advanced consent before their fruit of their labors is used for political purposes.
And I'd like to end with Ms. Sanchez' quote from Thomas Jefferson and give another quote. He said, and I quote, "To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical."
I ask you today to defend the constitutional rights of workers against an increasingly powerful tyranny, and thereby fortify the First Amendment rights of union members all over the country.
[The statement of Mr. Williams follows:]
WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF BOB WILLIAMS, PRESIDENT, THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION, OLYPMIA, WASHINGTON – SEE APPENDIX K
Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Mr. Williams. Let me also note for the record that your lengthier written testimony does contain several case studies and examples to support both the points and contentions and the recommendations that you made in your oral testimony. And, we appreciate it.
I understand Congressman Souder will have a parliamentary inquiry here momentarily.
Ladies and gentlemen, because we do have a good turnout here today, actually, a larger audience than we have many times at hearings back in Washington, for the record, we will note it. If I can see by a show of hands, how many dues-paying union members are present today? May we see a show of hands?
All right. With respect to our audience, we will note, then, that the majority, the great majority of our audience, is in fact, rank-and-file, dues-paying members. We're glad to have you here. And if you would be so kind to identify perhaps one individual, your business agent, if he or she is present, we would like to also include in the record a list of the labor union organizations, the local unions that are represented here today. Please make sure you approach our staff so we have that information.
Mr. Souder. I have a couple things; one may be a request, one a point, and one an inquiry.
My request would be that the full statements of any witness be put in the record. That's pretty standard.
Chairman Riggs. Without objection, so noted.
Mr. Souder. Mr. Moses didn't get all of his comments into the record, or Mr. Williams, as you alluded to.
My point is that there were two individuals in Ms. Giles' testimony who were named. And, I think it's important for the record to show that Patrick Rooney from Indiana would probably appreciate the comments about him, although he'd probably use the word "conservative" rather than "right-wing."
But many of the comments about Grover Norquist's were allegations. I think the record should show that many of those were allegations. Some of those were in the Sacramento Bee, and some of them even went beyond those allegations. I think it should be shown that where he's wrong, he's wrong, and where he's legal, he's legal. But that's --
Chairman Riggs. If the gentleman and the gentlelady will yield for just a moment, we need to make sure, obviously, that that is clear; that those allegations were made in the context of the statement of one of our witnesses here today.
Mr. Souder. It's because those were very individualized --
Chairman Riggs. Yes.
Mr. Souder. -- and personal, I felt.
And my inquiry is that, will we have at least a round of questions?
Chairman Riggs. I certainly hope so, time permitting.
The gentleman inquired whether there would be two rounds of questioning. I certainly hope so.
Let me begin, then, the first round of questioning. I'm going to be very short. I'm going to ask a question to both witnesses here today at the request and invitation of the Democratic members of this Committee, Ms. McGill and Ms. Giles, who have obviously identified themselves as officials and leaders in their local labor organizations. I want to ask them to briefly answer the following question:
To the best of your knowledge, what sort of notice must employees, your rank-and-file members, receive about their rights under the Supreme Court Beck decision about how their compulsory dues are spent?
Ms. Giles. I'll go first.
Chairman Riggs. Please.
Ms. Giles. When our members sign up -- I can speak personally, since I'm a workplace steward -- when I sign somebody up, I let them know that. Furthermore, they receive after they sign up, a membership packet that includes the information that their political contribution, the dollar-and-a-half I referred to, is voluntary, and that they may discontinue this contribution if they wish.
Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Ms. Giles. When you actually breach that verbally, do they sign any kind of acknowledgment?
Ms. Giles. They sign a card. They sign a membership card.
Chairman Riggs. All right. Thank you.
Ms. McGill. Each new employee in our district is given two things. They may fill out a form to become a member, or they may fill out an agency fee application. They can fill out either thing easily.
Chairman Riggs. Do --
Ms. McGill. They are given to every new employee.
Chairman Riggs. Do those documents specifically spell out what that individual union member's rights are under the Beck decision?
Ms. McGill. Yes.
Chairman Riggs. Now, how do you account to your members for how their dues are spent? Ms. Giles?
Ms. Giles. I can tell you in general -- and I know this from personal experience -- that any member who requests a financial statement from our local receives it.
Chairman Riggs. Ms. McGill?
Ms. McGill. We have site reps. That means that at each school there are elected representatives. They attend meetings on a regular basis. And at each and every meeting, we have a report for our local budget. Annually, we publish one for the state and the NEA. And they can receive one of those at any time if they call and ask.
Chairman Riggs. Mr. Righeimer, I'm looking at a form here called the California Reform Initiative. Apparently, it's a fact sheet distributed to explain very briefly, by way of overview what the initiative is all about. But down at the bottom is a signature box, so that you can actually see the signature blank here. And there is language.
It says "Authorization for political use of fees. Signing this form authorizes a portion of your dues, agency shop fees or other fees to be used for making political contributions or expenditures. You are not obligated to sign this authorization. Your signature below is completely voluntary and cannot in any way affect your employment." Who drafted that language, Mr. Righeimer?
Mr. Righeimer. Frank Ury, Mark Bucher, and myself.
Chairman Riggs. What is the intent of that language?
Mr. Righeimer. Well, basically, it's when a person gets a job, you know, it's like a big life-changing decision to get a job somewhere. There's a lot going on. There are forms you have to fill out for health insurance and pension and the union you might belong to.
And the idea of the form was to make sure it just wasn't buried somewhere; that it was a simple form that said that. And then like it was brought up earlier, this 24 bold type is the heading on it. And it just says this is money that's going to come out of your dues for political purposes. And the amount has to be there. And you sign that off. It keeps it very simple and very separate. And it doesn't, you know, stuff it into some tiny language in the back of some document somewhere. It makes it up-front for the employee.
Chairman Riggs. Ms. McGill and Ms. Giles, do you object to this language?
Ms. Giles. Well, I'm sure that -- Mr. Righeimer, is it?
Mr. Righeimer. Righeimer.
Ms. Giles. -- has had the advice of attorneys who have told him how things should be worded. I don't have that advantage, so I'm not going to comment on his language.
Chairman Riggs. You were referring to fine print in the initiative, what you call the anti-worker initiative. Were you referring to that language --
Ms. Giles. No.
Chairman Riggs. -- as the fine print?
Ms. Giles. No, I was not.
Chairman Riggs. I see. Ms. McGill, would you object to the use of this language?
Ms. McGill. I can't -- I haven't seen that. I wouldn't want to respond. I do have our chief legal advisor here, and she might respond.
Chairman Riggs. We'll make copies and provide them to the witnesses. When we go to the second round of discussion, perhaps you will have had the opportunity to see this and can respond.
Ms. Koog, do you think language like this, when you joined your local, if you had been presented this form that says "Authorization for political use of fees. Signing this form authorizes a portion of your dues, agency shop fees or other fees to be used for making political contributions or expenditures. You are not obligated to sign this authorization. Your signature below is completely voluntary and cannot in any way affect your employment."
Do you think that this would have addressed your concern and the misinformation that you got when you joined your local?
Ms. Koog. Yes, I do, but the union itself is saying that they don't even know that this process, the Beck process, is available at my union. You can either call that stonewalling or believe them, but I happen to believe them.
Chairman Riggs. Would a form such as the one Commissioner Reneau has attempted to distribute to workplaces throughout Oklahoma have helped you? For instance, a form that says your rights under the Oklahoma Minimum Wage Act, the Beck rights, right in the middle, special notice, refund of union dues, do you think something like this -- which may have been posted in your workplace -- would have helped you?
Ms. Koog. Both of those would be helpful. But there is still one other issue, in that you hear these things and you don't know if you really lose your union rights and privileges anyway. You hear rumors about them, but you're never really sure what your rights and everything are if you were. Because the contract says you have to be in the union.
Chairman Riggs. And you brought that out in your testimony.
Ms. Koog. Yeah.
Chairman Riggs. And we'll explore those feelings, perhaps, when we get to the second round of questions.
Ms. Sanchez. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Let's see who we have here. Ms. Koog, I'm really not going to ask you any questions, but I do want to compliment you for being here. It seems to me that over time we've had other hearings with respect to, as one of my colleagues back in Washington calls it, disgruntled employees. And I just want to say to you personally that many of these people have said they have been intimidated to be here. We have a lot of supposed workers "A" and workers "B." So I applaud you for being here today with us.
And, you know, I, too, get a lot of bad letters and bad calls. There are some bad people out there. And I still manage to walk around without bodyguards, et cetera. So I really commend you for being here and having the fortitude to be here.
I would like to say something to Ms. McGill.
Ms. McGill, aside from many of the things mentioned as to why you believe your union is good, I want to commend you for acknowledging that we need some facilities funding here in California. And let me tell you, we are working on that back in Washington, D.C. The President initially had that in his budget this past year. And unfortunately, the gentleman you see to the left of me today did not think that facilities funding was an important issue for California.
So I commend you for pushing that issue here in California.
Ms. McGill. Thank you.
Ms. Sanchez. I'd really like to talk to Ms. Reneau.
Ms. Reneau, thank you for coming out from -- Oklahoma, is it?
Ms. Reneau. Yes, it is Oklahoma.
Ms. Sanchez. You know, I have very little patience with people who talk about worker "A" and worker "B." It's sort of like the issue that's before Congress, where there are 2500 names on a list of bad voters in my district, but I never get to see any of the evidence. I never get to see a name. I never get to see anything. So I'm going to discount what you said about worker "A" and worker "B," unless you give me some names on that.
But I really would like to ask you a question. Is it true that the Attorney General for Oklahoma has issued a legal opinion that concluded that you had no authority to require Oklahoma employers to post notices of employees' Beck rights?
Is that a "yes" or a "no," Ms. Reneau?
Ms. Reneau. Of course it's true, or I wouldn't put it in my statement.
Ms. Sanchez. Is it also true that the attorney general concluded that employers may not be prosecuted for failing to post the unlawful minimum wage notice issued by your office on September 1st of 1997?
Ms. Reneau. Yes, it's true.
Ms. Sanchez. Now, the purpose of the Oklahoma minimum wage notice provisions are to insure that workers are aware of the minimum wage by requiring employers to post notices to inform them.
I don't think I have to really tell you, the Oklahoma Commissioner of Labor, that that's a requirement; however, because your September 1st notice sought to post information unrelated to that minimum wage for which you had no statutory authority, no employer may be prosecuted for failing to post something so basic as minimum wage information.
Is it true that the effect of your action was to undermine the very law you were charged to enforce?
Ms. Reneau. I concede that you've done some homework. But if you'd done enough, you would have also found that the Commissioner of Labor is authorized by statute to proscribe the form in which that poster is to be made. And that's exactly what I did, in compliance with the statute.
Ms. Sanchez. And that's why it was ruled incorrect --
Ms. Reneau. That's why it's in court --
Ms. Sanchez. -- by your own attorney --
Ms. Reneau. Ms. Sanchez, because that's what the court system is for -- disagreements.
Ms. Sanchez. How much did it cost to produce, print and distribute that September 1st, 1997 notice that employers are now not needed to post in every workplace?
Ms. Reneau. I'll disagree that it's not needed. I think that's an editorial comment by you. But the cost of the poster, I think, is right on the poster itself, is it not? I'll be glad to find it and read it to you.
"2,500 copies have been prepared and distributed at a cost of $150."
Ms. Sanchez. Okay. So $150,000 --
Ms. Reneau. No, $150 for --
Ms. Sanchez. $150 --
Ms. Reneau. -- for the entire process.
Ms. Sanchez. To distribute, to get it to individual employers, et cetera, it cost you $150? You didn't Fed-Ex it, send by mail, send by postage, et cetera?
Ms. Reneau, has any effort been made to reimburse taxpayers for this unlawful expense?
Ms. Reneau. Employees who are members of the merit system did it.
Ms. Sanchez. Has any effort been made to reimburse taxpayers of that unlawful expense?
Ms. Reneau. No. But I'll tell you, Ms. Sanchez, it's not necessary. Because if, in fact, I lose in the court system, and, if you've got a copy of the poster itself, you can see that the notice is in the center of the poster. If the court rules that that should not stand, I'm going to abide by and honor the court's decision. And we can certainly see how easy it would be to cut out that special notice, leaving a hole in the center of this poster, not costing the taxpayers any more money, and it would then be in compliance with state law, would it not?
Ms. Sanchez. I think you could even put it, maybe, over the light switch area or something.
Ms. Reneau. That would be excellent. More people would see it.
Ms. Sanchez. In a press release you issued on August 22nd of 1997, you stated, and I quote, "Under the CWA vs. Beck ruling, the court found that only 19 percent of dues were actually spent on these three core areas; collective bargaining, contract administration and grievance adjustments."
Now, you're one for the courts. You just told me the courts are for disagreements. That's why we have them. Are you aware that that statement is grossly incorrect; that, in fact, the court ultimately concluded that approximately 80 percent of CWA's dues were for collective bargaining, contract administration and grievous adjustment?
Ms. Reneau. Thank you for clearing that up.
Ms. Sanchez. Good. I'm out of time already? Come on, I'm just getting started.
Chairman Riggs. That is the end of this gentlelady's time to the first round of questioning, since we are going to try to adhere to the light system time limits, as I did.
I now turn to Congressman Souder. He is recognized for any questions he might have for our witnesses.
Mr. Souder. Commissioner --
Ms. Reneau. Reneau.
Mr. Souder. -- Reneau. Sorry. I knew how to say it. I was sidetracked a second.
I want to clarify. You felt you had the right to do this poster. The attorney general didn't. You're in court adjudicating the process, which is the way these things work.
Ms. Reneau. You bet.
Mr. Souder. I had another round of questioning for you, and in a different matter.
In your union member "A," who -- generally speaking, you do have to be cautious, and therefore I'm not focusing heavily on the individual person, although sometimes in congressional hearings we do, because there can be an intimidation process as has happened today.
But, you have a charge that says this person had 37 cents, which was what they estimated the cost of the political portion was, and that you don't think that that was true.
You believe an independent audit would reveal this meager amount to be bogus, was your choice in words in your testimony. As Labor Commissioner, do you have a right to investigate this?
Ms. Reneau. No, sir.
Mr. Souder. Who in the local home governmental system has the right to investigate protection?
Ms. Reneau. In fact, no one does. Union members have no protection in that area. There is nothing there that requires organized labor officials to turn over or produce evidence of any kind of accounting of their --
Mr. Souder. Since, by court law, they have to give back any amount if an individual chooses to not pay their political dues, do you know any state in the union that offers protection for the union member who doesn't want to pay those political dues?
Ms. Reneau. No, sir, I do not.
Mr. Souder. Mr. Williams, you said that in the actual Beck decision, they awarded Harry Beck a 79 percent return of his dues. Do you know of any place in the country or any official responsible for making sure that union members are protected if they exercise this right?
Mr. Williams. It's a very, very serious problem. And in the arbitration process that you go through, it's a union-selected, union-paid, arbitrated at union headquarters. And if you're a teacher, you have to take off from work. And you go in. And in the advance packet that they send you, what they call the Hudson packet, when you go into the hearing, they give you the next year's budget. And so you have to challenge them on the spot. And I'm a CPA, and I couldn't do it on the spot. If you don't challenge them on the spot, it's too late.
And that's why the district court back in the D.C. area said that that's a sham; you don't have to go through that process.
Mr. Souder. You have a statement. Let me quote from your statement that you read. "Since their political war chests are stocked with resources greatly exceeding member voluntary political contributions." What do you mean? Do you mean that depending on how you calculate this, they've spent more than they claim they're collecting?
Mr. Williams. Well, if you have 8,000 people who are contributing to PAC, and you multiply that PAC contribution by a dollar a month, and you multiply that by 12 months a year, you come up with $96,000 a year, and in a two-year election cycle you're going to have $182,000. They spent, on one program alone, 1.5 million. There's a serious problem.
And the attorney general has already found that one of the things they did is assess all their members for other things.
The other action she's going to --
Mr. Souder. By "attorney general," you mean the attorney general of Washington State?
Mr. Williams. Washington State.
Mr. Souder. And she's looking at the education --
Mr. Williams. They're in court right now because she said that's an unauthorized PAC and a violation of state law. State law like California is proposing says you can't do that without the member's annual written consent. And the union just went around and raised their dues anyway. Put a special assessment on it.
Mr. Souder. I'm not familiar with what's going on in Washington State, but I appreciate your pioneering efforts, and not known as a bastion of right-wing conservatism. So, let me try to understand this. In Washington State, while they don’t have the right to do the audit that I asked about a few minutes ago, they're trying to in effect do it backwards, in the sense of saying, here's at least how much you spend.
Is this just in direct advertising, or does this also include on-the-ground fieldwork, or they wouldn't necessarily know that?
Mr. Williams. They don't know that.
Mr. Souder. So they're trying to estimate the actual campaign expenditures and say this is the minimum of what should be calculated for an individual.
Mr. Williams. That's right. The minimum. It's the bare minimum.
Mr. Souder. Do you know any other states that are doing that process?
Mr. Williams. No.
We do know in Washington State and in several of the states on the eve of federal court cases that the union has settled -- for example, Pennsylvania just settled 75 percent in reduction in fees for those members of that class. Washington State, on the eve of a court case, we had a 70 percent reduction of fees. In the next case, we had a 50 percent reduction for two years.
So again, a CPA, if he settles for 75 percent out of court, it's a minimum of 75 percent.
That is, Ms. Sanchez, 75 percent that did not go for union functions. That is 25 percent that did go for union functions.
Ms. Sanchez. I was talking about --
Mr. Williams. Well, I just wanted to make sure you understood that it was 75.
Mr. Souder. In the Harry Beck 79 percent return of his dues, did that include things other than the estimated for politics?
Mr. Williams. That was what was not the traditional union functions of collective bargaining, maintenance of the contract and grievances.
Mr. Souder. Thank you.
Ms. Sanchez. Mr. Williams, by the way, in your particular case, 75 percent was the initial vote. But when it went through the court system, that did come down. I think if you're going to use the court as a system by which you gauge, you better use the last lawsuit --
Mr. Williams. I am using the last lawsuit in Washington State. It did not go down, Ms. Sanchez. I do have the numbers. I am a CPA. I have an audit trail. I assure you, I do not throw around phony numbers. You stand corrected.
Chairman Riggs. Mr. Filner.
Mr. Filner. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Let me first say, with all sincerity, I am not a member of this committee. I am allowed to be here at the sufferance of the Chair, and I sincerely thank you.
He knows I disagree with him on these issues.
And I appreciate the chance that you have given me to be a member while you were here in San Diego. And I sincerely mean that, Chairman Riggs.
I also sincerely say I spent a lot of time going around to various places, including unions, arguing that people have to be politically involved and take a role in it. And the gentlemen on my left have done a marvelous job of making that point very clear to the folks in this room. And I hope they bring that back to their union members the reasons why you have to stay politically involved as you hear some of the statements here.
I was just wondering, Ms. Davies and Ms. Koog, are you still members of unions now?
Ms. Davies. No. I retired last year.
Mr. Filner. So you were a member for how long?
Ms. Davies. I've been in education 33 years. So I was a member for many, many years.
Mr. Filner. And are you still a member of the union?
Ms. Koog. Yes, I am.
Mr. Filner. Okay. Has either of you ever run for office in the union?
Ms. Davies. I was in the negotiating team. I was a high official in the union.
Mr. Filner. Which union?
Ms. Davies. And --
Mr. Filner. I'm sorry. Which union, ma'am?
Ms. Davies. -- Teachers Association.
Mr. Filner. San Diego Teachers Association?
Ms. Davies. No.
I fought for union privileges. I believed in the union -- well, the union focused on students -
Mr. Filner. So you were --
Ms. Davies. -- and curriculum --
Mr. Filner. Right.
Ms. Davies. Excuse me. I want to finish.
And curriculum matters. But when the union became extremely political and ceased to really protect the rights of students and the rights of individual teachers, then I withdrew.
Mr. Filner. Okay. But did you have an opportunity to influence what the union was all about?
Ms. Davies. Well, let me tell you --
Mr. Filner. You were on a negotiating team, so you obviously --
Ms. Davies. And the thing that I --
Mr. Filner. You obviously had a leadership role.
Ms. Davies. Yes.
The thing that I really objected to is that we made all the decisions.
Mr. Filner. Right.
Ms. Davies. We told the membership, these are your two choices.
Mr. Filner. But everybody else had a chance to run for office also, right?
Ms. Davies. Yeah. Nobody wanted to run.
Mr. Filner. Well, that's their privilege also.
Ms. Davies. That's right.
Mr. Filner. Well, some people are smarter than those of us who choose to run for office are.
Ms. Davies. That's right. I believe that.
Mr. Filner. The point I'm trying to make --
Ms. Davies. I'm an elected official, just like you now.
Mr. Filner. We believe in majority rule in this country. In a democratic organization, you have a chance to run for office and influence the policies of that organization. And sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. I have been a member of all kinds of organizations. And I --
Ms. Davies. So was I.
Mr. Filner. And sometimes I won, sometimes I lost. But if I choose to be and stay a member of that organization, then I have to go along with it, even when I disagree. And that's, I think, what's going on in most of the unions I know about; that is, there are majority decisions on these matters. People have a chance to change them. And if they don't, they go along.
Ms. Koog. You also asked me that question.
Mr. Filner. Please.
Ms. Koog. Yes. I was asked by the union president to run as warden in the last election, and I did. Part of the reason they called me in is they wanted an outspoken voice that would be honest, that would have an oftentimes opposite opinion. That's what they wanted.
Mr. Filner. And were you elected?
Ms. Koog. I was elected unanimously. But also, I wasn't disgruntled with my union. My union took a position that the nationals then took our dues and put ads out against. That's why I feel so strongly.
Mr. Filner. And there are national representatives from the local to the National union.
Ms. Koog. I was on the local.
Mr. Filner. Right. And I say you have an opportunity to affect those national policies.
Ms. Sanchez. When was it that your local union endorsed Mr. Riggs?
Ms. Koog. Congressman Riggs, in 1994. These ads ran in the summer of 1995, which was an election year.
Ms. Sanchez. So --
Mr. Cunningham. Chairman, a parliamentary inquiry.
I believe the ranking minority member has had her time to speak, and we're sitting here, patiently waiting to ask questions.
Mr. Filner. She's on my time now.
Chairman Riggs. Members will --
Ms. Sanchez. Didn't he yield?
Chairman Riggs. Members will refrain.
The gentlelady is proceeding now under Mr. Filner's time. He yielded to her.
The gentlelady may proceed.
Ms. Sanchez. I'm just trying to get something clarified, here.
Your local union endorsed Mr. Riggs for the 1994 election?
Ms. Koog. Correct.
Ms. Sanchez. Okay. And then Mr. Riggs was elected.
Ms. Koog. Correct.
Ms. Sanchez. Correct. And then in 1995, AFL-CIO ran some ads that disagreed with something that Mr. Riggs was voting on or happened to do back in Washington, D.C.; is that correct?
Ms. Koog. Correct.
Ms. Sanchez. Okay. Well, I would say, at least from our interpretation -- because this happens all the time -- that the union is looking out for you. It's saying we thought this guy would go back and do a good job for you. And guess what? The first thing he does when he gets there is votes against working people. So we're going to let you know that.
Ms. Koog. I think the point is the opposite; the rank and file should let the national know who is supportive of our community. Congressman Riggs ran on jobs first because he was supportive of our timber community.
Our union, in 1989, had over 2,000 members. At this point in time, our union has less than 200 because of the timber jobs that have went down.
Ms. Sanchez. The unions --
Ms. Koog. That's --
Ms. Sanchez. The unions have, at least the way I understand them -- believe me, I just got into this this week -- that the local needs to speak to the national as it goes through the system, and that the national also has to report back and get the information down to the locals.
So I would say it's a two-way street of communication.
And I yield my time back to --
Chairman Riggs. The gentleman's time has expired. Ms. Davies, I know you need to leave. It's seven minutes till 4:00. I intend to recognize Congressman Cunningham. And I don't know if you're his constituent, but I just --
Ms. Davies. Yes, I am. And I highly respect the congressman, and I'm very happy that he's my representative in Congress.
Chairman Riggs. You do need to leave now, though?
Ms. Davies. Yes.
Chairman Riggs. The gentleman is recognized. You may proceed.
Mr. Cunningham. I believe I was listening to Roger Hitchcock yesterday.
Ms. Davies. Yes, sir.
Mr. Cunningham. Was that you that called in?
Ms. Davies. It certainly was.
Mr. Cunningham. I thought it was.
I would hope that any member here, union or non-member, would oppose the type of tactics, alleged tactics, should I say, because I don't have firsthand knowledge that they have been used against Ms. Davies.
Ms. Davies. There is --
Mr. Cunningham. As I understand it on the radio conversation, she's had to move out of her house. She's had her house rocked and damaged and so on. And those kinds of civil rights, regardless of union or non-union, American citizens would oppose.
And is that a fact, Ms. Davies?
Ms. Davies. Congressman, yes, it is a fact. And I'll go a little further.
The president of the union, Linda Pierce, stalked my house 33 times. And she -- you know, I wish you would be a little polite.
She -- when they sent the paperwork to the Attorney General of California, because they had tried to remove me from office from day one -- she signed. She signed it. She went to my house to see if I was there 33 times at all hours of the night, the morning, in the middle of her workday.
I have had death threats. The union members have insulted my supporters. 11 high schools yesterday were picketed. They brought in union members from city schools from other places.
I am Hispanic, I have an accent and I spoke Spanish the night that I was seated -- Ms. Sanchez will be very interested in this -- I welcomed my constituents first in English and then in Spanish, because I'm very proud of my heritage. There were teachers in the audience and union members who yelled -- this is recorded in the newspaper -- "Speak English, lady." "This is America." "Go home, beaner." Excuse me. I can't pronounce that. "Go home, beaner." And "You're an F'ing minority."
Those are union tactics. They are just acting in a most despicable manner. They have mounted a hate campaign because I defeated their bought candidate, the person that they endorsed. I am the first minority ever elected to that district, Ms. Sanchez.
Ms. Sanchez. Yes.
Ms. Davies. I'm going through a lot of the stuff --
Ms. Sanchez. Yes.
Ms. Davies. -- that, perhaps, you're going through.
Ms. Sanchez. We all are. When the Republican Governor of California calls us "dummy" and "stupid" --
Mr. Cunningham. Ms. Sanchez --
Ms. Sanchez. I would agree.
Chairman Riggs. Order. Order. Mr. Cunningham controls the time.
Mr. Cunningham. Thank you.
I'd like to see, by a show of hands of the members in the audience, how many of you would oppose this kind of tactics. I would hope every citizen in this country would oppose this kind of tactics.
I'm not setting you up. Would you oppose something like this if you knew about it?
Ms. Davies. This gentleman over here, Mr. Crawford --
Mr. Cunningham. I control the time, Ms. Davies.
Ms. Davies. I'm sorry.
Mr. Cunningham. I would ask a question of Ms. Giles.
You said that people could take their money back. I can't understand that under this particular legislation, all it says is that someone that objects to their money being used for political purposes can ask not to have to contribute or ask for their money back. Why would you oppose that?
Ms. Giles. Are you referring to this?
Mr. Cunningham. Yes, if that is the bill.
Ms. Giles. This is the language that -- well, this is a flyer. Since I'm asked to address it, could I inquire --
Mr. Cunningham. Would the gentlelady answer the question?
Ms. Giles. Well, before I can answer the question, I need a clarification.
If the form that employees would be required to sign every year cannot be designed until and unless the initiative passes, and it must be designed by the FPPC, then why are we talking about this language? The FPPC will design the form, so I decline to get into a discussion of this verbiage.
Mr. Cunningham. I yield back for the balance of my time. It's just a suggestion as far as the language. But would you be opposed, then, if someone receiving his or her money back --
Ms. Giles. It's already possible.
Mr. Cunningham. So I take it that you're not opposed to it.
Ms. Giles. I'm not opposed to the provisions that are currently in effect, where our members voluntarily contribute.
Mr. Cunningham. Controlling the time, Mr. Chairman.
Ms. Giles. May I --
Mr. Cunningham. And I would say, Ms. McGill --
Ms. Davies. May I leave, Congressman?
Mr. Cunningham. Yes.
Ms. Davies. Or do you --
Mr. Cunningham. The gentlelady is --
Chairman Riggs. We understand it's now four o'clock, and you need to leave.
Ms. Davies. Thank you very much.
I would like to ask, Congressman -- Mr. Crawford over here is not from my district, and he was picketing my high school yesterday.
Chairman Riggs. Thank you.
Mr. Cunningham. I would like to make a correction, Ms. McGill, when you said the Republican party wanted to cut Medicare. That --
Ms. McGill. I didn't say that, Mr. Cunningham. You can look at my statement. I never said that.
Mr. Cunningham. Were you inferring that we were cutting Medicare?
Ms. McGill. I didn't say anything about Medicare.
Mr. Cunningham. How about Social --
Ms. McGill. You can look at my --
Mr. Cunningham. Was it you?
Ms. McGill. No, it was not.
Mr. Cunningham. Oh. It was Ms. Giles?
Ms. Giles. That was me.
Mr. Cunningham. Okay. In my interpretation of Medicare, the same bill that unions put millions of dollars of TV ads on about negative Medicare is the same bill the President signed in the balanced budget. The President came away from the far left of his leadership in the party, and at least came to the middle and signed a Medicare bill that saves it.
Social Security is the same thing. We took that off line so that congressmen couldn't reach in there, spend their money, take it out, put an IOU in there and defunct the trust account.
So I would differ with the gentlelady's assessment on that particular issue.
And I yield back the balance of my time.
Ms. Giles. May I respond?
Chairman Riggs. Please respond.
Ms. Giles. I was misquoted there. My comment was that special interests which are also supporting this initiative have supported certain alterations to Social Security which, in my opinion, would be detrimental. I did not accuse the Republican party.
Mr. Cunningham. I yield back, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Riggs. Thank you.
Mr. Cunningham. I do have another appointment that I do have to attend. I want to thank you. I know this is not your committee. I know that to travel and to take time away from your family is onerous to yourself.
In closing, I would just like to say there's many fine unions here in San Diego. If you look at NASSCO and shipbuilding/ship repair, you find quality work. I would challenge anyone to come down and look at the quality work at our unions here locally. That's not the issue here. The issue is the right of the people to have control of their money.
Chairman Riggs. Thank you to the gentleman for his participation here today.
Mr. Souder. I have a parliamentary point.
Chairman Riggs. The gentleman may state his parliamentary point.
Mr. Souder. Actually, I have three parliamentary points.
Mr. Cunningham asked a question of the audience. And there's no way for people, in the record, to tell that half the union members who were here responded in the affirmative.
Chairman Riggs. We'll note that.
Mr. Cunningham. That was just for my own purposes.
Chairman Riggs. I understand that. You know, I understand that it's very difficult, if not impossible, to reach a common ground or build any consensus on this particular issue. But I think we would all condemn tactics that involve intimidation or destruction of property or violence. I think that's a given, no matter which way you come down on the issue.
Now I will proceed on my time. Each individual Member of Congress has to decide how they're going to conduct themselves. I think that's obvious. I normally do not make it a policy to take gratuitous cheap shots at another Member of Congress, and I normally don't make it a policy to respond to a gratuitous cheap shot aimed in my direction.
However, I do want to make it very, very clear that I am Congressman Cunningham's successor as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and Families. It is also known as the Education Subcommittee, because we have jurisdiction over all federal education programs and funding in grades K through 6.
I will stipulate that there's a great need for facility repair and construction in not only our state, but around the country today. However, I would want those present to know that in response to a comment made by Congresswoman Sanchez, I believe that that is a responsibility for state and local taxpayers, not federal. It would be a new, unprecedented role for federal taxpayers to be involved in that. I am interested in having hearings to determine the extent of the need in your state and around the country.
I also would point out that we, as a majority party in the Congress, are very committed to reducing the size of the educational bureaucracy in Washington. We do this in order to drive more resources, more federal taxpayers funding, to states and local communities to spend as they see fit and as they deem appropriate. This is in keeping with long-standing American tradition of local control and decentralized decision-making in public education.
The local community, the local elected decision-makers in that community, the local elected school board and state legislative representatives, decide that that is how to prioritize that funding for school renovation and construction. That certainly would be their prerogative.
Ms. Sanchez. Would the gentleman yield just for one second?
Chairman Riggs. I yield.
Ms. Sanchez. My intent was not to throw a cheap shot at you. And, in fact, Mr. Riggs, I will send some information over to your office which shows that, in fact, the federal government is now, through the new Tax Relief Bill from August, funding renovation to facilities for K through 12 schools.
Chairman Riggs. I will reclaim my time.
Mr. Williams, I want to understand better why, when Washington voters spoke so loudly by this overwhelming margin -- I think earlier in my comments it was 72 percent, but I guess it was actually 73 percent. Why, if Washington State voters were so explicitly clear, has the initiative there -- is it 134?
Mr. Williams. Yes.
Chairman Riggs. Why has that not been fully implemented? Why hasn't it been enforced in compliance with the will of an overwhelming majority of Washington State voters?
Mr. Williams. I think the key, Mr. Chairman, is that union officials have nothing to lose. There's no penalty. When the law was passed, the Washington Education Association recognized they had a problem. They predicted their membership would go down. And it went down, as we said, from 48,000 to 8. They challenged it in court. They lost the court battle.
They then went out and assessed all their members another fee, probably thinking they wouldn't be caught. And when the teachers protested, they threatened to sue the teachers. They said you're interfering with our contract with the school district. And get out of the way or we'll sue you.
So these teachers now have had these complaints going for about three years. And our state watchdog agency, the Public Disclosure Commission, said it's illegal. The attorney general said it's illegal. But even as we speak today, even though they're in court, the union is continuing to get $60,000 a month from teachers in violation of state law. It's powerful.
Chairman Riggs. Commissioner Reneau, obviously, you have a statewide constituency. Do you have any way of knowing whether your constituents, the people of Oklahoma, support your efforts -- I know it's become tied up in the courts there. But do you have any way of knowing that?
Ms. Reneau. Yes. I have personal and direct knowledge. In the last two-and-a-half months, I have visited 27 counties in the state of Oklahoma, and spoke directly with the citizens there, and have received overwhelmingly a one-hundred-percent response as far as what I'm trying to do.
Oklahoma citizens know that this is not about union versus non-union; it's about a person's right to be a part of the process and to have knowledge about how the dues are spent.
I have not had even one person or union member tell me that they disagreed with their right to know how their union dues are being spent.
Chairman Riggs. In your experience -- and Mr. Williams, in your experience -- why do you think that the individual rank-and-file union worker, as well as a great majority of the public, the electorate, why do you think they so strongly support the efforts in Washington State, and now your efforts, Commissioner, in Oklahoma?
Ms. Reneau. Well, if I can go first, I think it's the American way, sir. I think that every American owns the fruits of his or her labor. And I think a lot of people think that the sale of their labor is not a government matter, and that they should be able to determine how their money is spent, what organizations, philosophies, beliefs, that they want to support. They should be able to choose.
That freedom to choose, I think, is inherent in all of us as individuals. And I see it as an individual matter. I don't see it as a matter of 50 plus 1 controlling the other 49 percent against their will. I think it's wrong. I think that we were raised -- in fact, our country was based on these principles, and I think people believe that they should be consistent throughout.
Chairman Riggs. Mr. Williams.
Mr. Williams. Mr. Chairman, I'd say the same thing. We found out again when we talked to the teachers.
And again, I think one point I want to make clear, I believe, and the teachers believe, that their union should be involved in politics. We're not saying they shouldn't be involved in politics. But it should be through voluntary contributions to the PAC. And that's a key thing. And that's what the teachers support overwhelmingly. Every poll we take, the teachers, be they Republican, Democrat, Independent, overwhelmingly say our union should be involved in politics. It's a very key thing. But we want voluntary contributions; not forced.
Chairman Riggs. Now turning back to you, Mr. Righeimer, I want to clarify where this language cam from, because I personally -- and I take responsibility -- may have created some confusion with some of our witnesses.
So, where did this language come from? And, how do you respond to Ms. Giles? She makes the point that if the ballot initiative passes here in California, it will ultimately fall, to the FPPC, the Fair Political Practices Commission, to draft the language that the union shops, their labor union organizations, would have to use to inform their members and seek their members' consent? Written consent.
Mr. Righeimer. The Fair Political Practices Commission oversees all policies, regardless of spending. The advantage that we have in California – which, I think Washington helped us with -- but in California, we don't get caught up in what staff's doing for politics, or what things are out there trying to push different issues.
This initiative only works on issues that you say I'm supporting this candidate by giving them money, and doing independent expenditures to help them, or using staff time actually helping a candidate or an initiative. For that, you already have to file a form with the Fair Political Practice Commission of the value of that independent expenditure, or the dollars that are given.
All this does is create a form, which is in the initiative. It exactly says how the form is done. And the Fair Political Practice Commission doesn't take anything to work it out. We've worked it out for them. It's in the initiative, how it's written, down to the actual words. So they just put it in there.
The unions will then have a total -- they'll have a stack of them signed. And the stack will say we've got $18,467 of our members' dues. When they fill out their forms with the state, they'd better not send more than $18,467, or whatever the figure is. They can't fudge on the numbers.
We're lucky in California to have the Political Reform Act already in place to work against. We didn't have to start from ground zero, like in Washington, to create what we've got 20 years of law to back up.
Chairman Riggs. My time has expired. But just to make sure I am clear on your point, it is your anticipation that then the FPPC would actually use this language or language very similar to this language?
Mr. Righeimer. The law would say they'd have to use that language.
Chairman Riggs. It would. Okay. If we get to one more round, I will ask that hypothetical question one more time to Ms. McGill and Ms. Giles.
Ms. Sanchez. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I'm going to be very brief and give my time over to Mr. Filner because I took some of his time the last time up.
This is just a comment for you, Mr. Williams. I don't need a response from you.
You mentioned something, and I wanted to clear and state, in fact, what the law is. Unions must inform each employee of the percentages of their union dues that are used for purposes that are not germane to collective bargaining, contract administration or grievance adjustment.
Moreover, unions must establish procedures to insure that those employees who choose not to support the union's political activities do not pay any part of the union dues that are used for purposes that are not germane to collective bargaining, contract administration or grievance adjustment. Just so that you can stand corrected.
And secondly, I would like to inform --
Mr. Williams. Just a second, Ms. Sanchez, if you would, please. That's exactly what I said. Those are the three things in my testimony.
Ms. Sanchez. Well, if you agree with that, then we're fine.
I would also like to disagree with you on something else, although I don't really want to waste my time to discuss it, because it really is a personal opinion from both of our ends.
You said something to the effect of authorized or not, you should not be able to automatically deduct these amounts from a person's paycheck. I personally tend to disagree. Whether it's authorized or not, if it's authorized, of course unions should be able to ask that that amount be automatically deducted. That's just a personal difference between the two of us.
Mr. Williams. Would you like my response?
Ms. Sanchez. No, because it's a personal difference.
I wish Ms. Davies were still here, because I don't know if someone heard what I said before when she went through her litany of what has happened to her, and I hope those in the audience would agree, that there is no need to be prejudiced towards elected officials or those who disagree with us. I've never believed in stone-throwing or name-calling.
And it's unfortunate that my colleague, Mr. Cunningham, has left because he talked about voter fraud in his opening remarks. Of course, we found out in my particular case that the grand jury of Orange County said there was no voter fraud. Unfortunately, I did not get to correct his inaccuracy.
And lastly, to -- I'm sorry. I'm probably going to ruin your name, here. Mr. Righeimer?
Mr. Righeimer. Righeimer.
Ms. Sanchez. Righeimer?
Mr. Righeimer. Righeimer.
Ms. Sanchez. I have one question for you.
The initiative also prohibits foreign contributions. Isn't it true that the state law already prohibits foreign contributions? And why would you put this provision in the initiative?
Mr. Righeimer. Actually, it wasn't done. There was no state law that would stop it.
In fact, what happened is you'd have to go to Janet Reno for the federal laws in order to stop it. So our initiative looked at not how money was spent, again, because that's a First Amendment right issue. Our initiative looked at how money was collected. And in fact, money that had been collected in the last several years, if the federal government didn't do anything about it, we at the state level could.
And then we would like to keep it to the Fair Political Practice Commission, which, quite frankly, the Fair Political Practice Commission weren't looking for putting people in jail; they were just looking to fines to make sure people complied with the law.
Ms. Sanchez. Thank you. And I won't ask you any more questions, because I know you and I are usually on the opposite side on some of the school board fights.
And I'll yield the rest of my time to Mr. Filner to finish off for our side.
Mr. Filner. Thank you, Ms. Sanchez.
Just quickly, Mr. Righeimer, you said in your testimony in California, the only way that a worker can stop having his earnings used for political purposes is to resign from the union. My understanding from today's testimony is that that's not true; that is, you can ask for your money back.
Mr. Righeimer. Well, actually, they are two different things. Some unions will have a separate check-off for additional dollars. What we're talking about is actual union dues that are used towards political purposes.
So someone will say "I don't want to give money." They'll say "There's a PAC we have. And I don't want to give money to that PAC." And they say "Fine. You don't have to give money to that PAC."
What most union members don't realize is that actually out, of their dues, money goes toward it.
Mr. Filner. But they have a legal right to ask for it back, right?
Mr. Righeimer. Right. But then --
Mr. Filner. So your statement is just false.
Mr. Righeimer. No. They would become an agency fee shop person. They no longer can vote for union issues.
Mr. Filner. Any reasonable person reading this would see that you're misstating the state law and giving an untrue rationalization for your initiative.
Commissioner Reneau gave a very eloquent statement that majority rights should not be adhered to; that the freedom to choose is paramount, no matter -- if I remember your statement -- no matter if it's a 51/49 percent majority, you have the right not to.
I was wondering if the three of you who seem to argue for that point think that if you don't agree with the way your taxes are used you have a right to get that percentage back?
We have in this country, obviously, both a respect for minority rights and a respect for majority rights. But you want to give all the majority rights away, it seems, in your statements. That is, the freedom to choose not to go along with the majority is more paramount than the rights of the majority.
And as long as we protect the rights of the minority, and I understood from the testimony that we have, why are you so un-American in these statements about not respecting the --
Ms. Reneau. First of all, I resent being referred to as un-American. Secondly, I'd like to say that --
Mr. Filner. It's a part of our country's heritage that the majority rules. And you said in your testimony -- and you can have it read back -- that it doesn't matter what the majority says; the right to chose is paramount.
Ms. Reneau. Mr. Filner, I think it's preposterous to equate a privately formed organization to that of the government.
Mr. Filner. All right. You want to separate the government. You know, I think the three of you -- anyway, you know how both political action committees work and issue advocacy soft money contributions work. Are you willing to apply the same principle to those who end up paying for that as you are to the unions?
Ms. Reneau. I would like for people who are forced to submit any portion of their hard-earned wages for purposes that they don't --
Mr. Filner. Does that apply to a shareholder? Not just wages?
Ms. Reneau. I'm not as familiar with those issues as you are. I'm from a very blue-collar background. I've never been a shareholder, so I couldn't speak to that.
Mr. Filner. How about somebody who is in management in G.E. or any other corporation that collects money for PACs; should they have the affirmative right to --
Ms. Reneau. It's not my understanding that people are forced to give to PACs.
Mr. Filner. But do they have a right to --
Chairman Riggs. The gentleman will --
Mr. Filner. What if they don't agree with the way the PAC spends the money?
Chairman Riggs. The gentleman --
Ms. Reneau. They should say so.
Chairman Riggs. The gentleman will suspend. His time has expired, unless he --
Mr. Filner. The money is still spent.
Chairman Riggs. Specifically, what --
Mr. Filner. I'm sorry, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Riggs. I intend to recognize Mr. Filner here in just a moment, but Ms. Sanchez' time has expired.
I now turn to Congressman Souder.
Mr. Souder. American principle is that the majority rules, but minorities still have rights, particularly when their job is at stake. It isn't that the majority therefore can deprive minorities of their political rights of Americans.
I wanted to ask Mr. Williams questions. But first, you didn't get a chance to respond, given Ms. Sanchez said it was her opinion, and she had the right to give her opinion. Would you like to respond?
Mr. Williams. I'll just let it go.
Mr. Souder. Do you know of any other job in America that you have to request money back that you have given politically?
Mr. Williams. Congress has only given labor and the IRS the right to do this. Now, you don't have to buy GM stock. You don't have to buy another company's. You have your own choice. But in this case, you don't have your own choice. The real issue is the dues. I mean, you have two things.
Mr. Souder. There's a difference, quite frankly, between stock and taxes and a job.
Mr. Williams. Right.
Mr. Souder. So you're saying that there are certain things, like IRS, where they have an automatic deduction from your paycheck; Social Security, FICA, is an automatic deduction from your paycheck. But you don't know of anything else for political, any other job, that you have to request your money back?
Mr. Williams. No. And when you request it back, you have to have the documentation. You have to prove how much that union spent. And no one is capable of doing that.
Mr. Souder. You have certainly raised a point to me. I think, unless something comes up at a new hearing, and for the record I think Ms. Reneau agrees -- that it's irrelevant to talk about an individual's right to request their money back when you have no audit procedure in America to determine what that amount should be.
Ms. Reneau. Exactly.
Mr. Souder. At a very minimum, we should have a full disclosure law to protect the rights of individual workers. I can't see how anybody could, Ms. Giles or Ms. McGill , oppose a disclosure process to determine that political --
Ms. McGill. We already have it.
Mr. Souder. How?
Ms. McGill. Well, I can speak specifically for CTA. With CTA, there is an audit each year. Any teacher who wants to go to that audit can; CTA officials go through and explain how the money was used.
Mr. Souder. In a Washington State case, if --
Ms. McGill. I don't know about Washington. But certainly, there is a procedure in California. And the people that protest and challenge the dues bring their attorneys, and the chapters have to prove what the money is being used for.
Mr. Souder. Do you believe there should be any oversight, a court-protected right that anybody should be able to look at to see? Certainly, the union has a vested interest in. We never give management that authority. When you're arbitrarily taking something out of somebody's paycheck for political purposes, we'd never give them the authority without any kind of an oversight. Do you believe there should be a government oversight to check your audit?
Ms. McGill. There is government oversight.
Mr. Souder. If somebody sues, you mean?
Ms. McGill. I don't think you have to sue to have government oversight.
Mr. Souder. In other words, the Labor Commissioner in California would have the ability to do that?
Ms. McGill. I'm sure.
Mr. Souder. Okay. Well, we'll check that. And I would like that checked for the record.
I also wanted to correct another misstatement in the record, and that was the implication that with this, somehow an 11 to 1 business-to-labor funding would change to 11 to zero. I would ask Mr. Williams again this question:
Have you seen in the business community any sign that they give disproportionately 9 to 1 to either party?
Mr. Williams. No. In fact, in Washington State, a large percentage of the business community gave to the Democratic party for quite a few years.
Mr. Souder. In fact, one of the reasons we're looking at campaign finance reform is because they typically give it to the incumbent. In other words, when the Democrats controlled Congress, they got more business money; and when the Republicans controlled Congress, they got most of the business money.
The incumbent that I defeated had 70 percent PAC money. I had 2 percent. Almost all the business money went to the Democratic incumbent. None went to me. And, in fact, I carried the majority of the union votes because neither the union bosses nor the business bosses favored somebody who was an incumbent.
Mr. Williams. What was that percentage in '96?
Mr. Souder. In '96, since I capped my amount of PAC money and I continued to oppose, for example, fast track and MFN, I was not the adored darling boy of corporate business interests. I also continued to carry, if not a majority, a close majority, of union votes.
I wanted to make that point that we didn't have the polls. The Democratic incumbent did the polls done previously. I think it's important to realize it's not an attempt to shut out. And the core question here is, should an individual have a right to say.
I'd also like to make sure that we put in the full initiative text into the record, so we have that.
Chairman Riggs. Without objection, so ordered.
[The information follows:]
TEXT OF THE CALIFORNIA REFORM INITIATIVE – SEE APPENDIX L
Mr. Souder. The Chairman is going to clarify this further, but my understanding is this is what people are signing --
Mr. Righeimer. Correct.
Mr. Souder. -- to get it on the ballot --
Mr. Righeimer. Yes.
Mr. Souder. Which describes, then, what needs to be covered. And it's your opinion that it would be this form that would be given to the employee. There would obviously be other things in the law that wouldn't necessarily be given to union members that would have to be enforced, as well, for example, by putting in something here that says "Contributions for foreign interests." There may be something else in the law that needs to be done, but that wouldn't be on the card --
Mr. Righeimer. Correct.
Mr. Souder. -- given to union members.
Mr. Righeimer. It's only the one part for taking the money out of the paycheck.
Mr. Souder. So by saying that the amount of information here could exclude this part is not necessarily true.
Mr. Righeimer. Correct.
Chairman Riggs. The gentleman's time has expired.
Mr. Filner. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I enjoyed the opportunity to engage my colleagues in real rational debate. And I think that's important. The way we view these things is just so different somehow.
If you take the principles that you suggested -- I'll use Congressman Souder, because he was the last to speak -- of disclosure and choice, et cetera -- I mean these are terms, obviously, we all would support. But they are applied in this initiative only to one kind of organization. And we might even come to an agreement if we apply these across the board.
Your figures, for example, that you use about business, I think, applied mainly to PACs. If you look at soft money and issue advocacy, the amount of money that corporate interests have relative to labor, it's not even debatable. It's 10, 20 to 1500. Most of this stuff is not disclosed. That's the problem. If you took what you said about disclosure, about free choice, about everybody being fully informed, I think we could all agree. The soft money we're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars -- none of it is disclosed.
When these campaigns are run, and I know for a fact – they’re involved in my campaigns, if a major corporation -- I won't use any name, but if a major corporation sends money on issue advocacy, which is not recorded, by the way, and not disclosed under existing laws -- and I think we should join together to favor that --
Mr. Souder. Will the gentleman --
Mr. Filner. Just let me finish my sentence.
Mr. Souder. I want to agree.
Mr. Filner. Well, we've got a Souder-Filner bill here.
Mr. Souder. Soft money was not what I was addressing.
Mr. Filner. I'm glad that we did find that agreement.
When I see a major corporation spending literally millions of dollars, that, to me, is taking money from shareholders. It's taking money without anybody having any say about what's going on. I mean, none of the shareholders, none of the employees, probably none of the management -- or very few of the management -- have anything to say about that.
And I think if these folks who are in the audience saw that these principles were applied across the board, there might be some interest. And there also might be some consensus, as we've shown in terms of issues of disclosure.
Labor unions, in general, are on the defensive, and there is no comparison of the amount of money that they raise relative to other amounts of money spent in the political sphere. They're trying to protect their rights to participate in the process and to enable their members, most of whom can only contribute a small amount, to do so effectively.
This bill, frankly, just changes the burden of proof of -- who can change -- who has to prove that they should spend the money. And you're taking away the right to do that from a group of people who feel very -- you keep saying union bosses. I'm telling you, unions are fairly powerless relative to lots of other interests. They want a right for a level field.
I think we ought to either support that right, or at least bring everybody down to the same playing field. And that's not what's happening here. This is an attack on labor. This is an attack on organized labor. It's an attack on working people. And we could argue terms and call each other names one way or the other. But that's how it's seen.
You are attacking one group with this initiative and with this bill. That's why we're going to have a drag-out fight next year in Congress. I don't know if it'll be a very close vote. I don't think you'll win it. If you do it will be vetoed.
And -- and what's the point? You want to make the point for your constituents. I'll make the point for mine. And we’ll all be reelected, probably. But we're not helping the American political process.
The American political process needs an end to the vast sums of unregulated money that people contribute. If we could get rid of that, these other issues would become more or less minor.
I yield back.
Chairman Riggs. I thank the gentleman.
I now am going to go to one final round of questioning and/or closing statements of the members; and first of all, would like to simply point out to my colleague Mr. Filner that I am very glad that he did join us today. I'm happy to have him here. He's a thoughtful member.
I do want to again come back to the overwhelming majorities, the 73 percent of Washington State voters that supported the initiative there, the 72 percent of California voters who, when surveyed recently, indicated strong support for the California initiative next June.
I also want to point out that when we get into this unions and corporations argument that it is apples and oranges. Unions, by a grant of power from the federal government, can enforce employees to pay dues to the union as a condition of employment. Corporations cannot force individuals, shareholders, to invest in them.
And for that matter, for those corporations that have political action committees, they cannot compel their employees to contribute to the political action committees. Any contribution to a corporate employee PAC is strictly voluntary. There's a clear distinction there, I believe.
I just want to see if I can conclude my finding in some consensus. Let me ask once again if either Ms. Giles or Ms. McGill would agree to the recent poll to which Commissioner Reneau’s testimony referred. It found that of 1,000 union members only 1 in 4 with at least 20 years of membership knew their right to request a refund of dues spent on political activity. And of those with less than five years of membership, the percentage of those aware of their Beck rights dropped to 1 in 10.
Given those numbers, a poll of 1,000 union members, would both of you ladies agree that those of us in elective office must do a better job of informing rank-and-file union members of their Beck rights? This includes the federal government, but certainly those of you who hold positions of leadership in labor organizations
Ms. Giles. Well, I think that the U.S. Congress could always do a better job, and it's impossible to argue that unions couldn't do a better job in some aspects. Those numbers don't mean anything to me. I didn't see those polls. I don't know how those questions were framed.
Chairman Riggs. Okay.
Ms. Giles. So the answer is everybody could always do better. And we're always trying.
Chairman Riggs. Miss McGill.
Ms. McGill. I would have to second that. I don't think I could say it better.
Chairman Riggs. Okay. Ditto.
Now, let me come back again to the language that is the subject of the California Campaign Reform Initiative. You've had a chance to see it, both ladies. Let me say it again for our audience.
"Authorization for political use of fees." We fully expect, now, that this is the form that the FPPC would require that labor organizations use to inform their members and to solicit the written affirmative consent of their members. "Signing this form authorizes a portion of your dues, agency shop fees or other fees to be used for making political contributions or expenditures. You are not obligated to sign this authorization. Your signature below is completely voluntary, and cannot in any way affect your employment." And there's a signature blank.
Ms. McGill, do you support this language?
Ms. McGill. I would object to anything like this, as long as it's just applied to unions. I think it's unnecessary, it causes a burden for us, and reduces our influence, without reducing anyone else's.
Chairman Riggs. Ms. Giles, do you support this language?
Ms. Giles. I think the question of this language is premature because the imposition of the requirement that unions must, every single year, and especially in 1998, go through the process of getting the form from the state. And let's all hope that the state uses the right-sized print and prints enough and gets them to the right address in time for us to get them out to our members and get them back in time to know how much money we're going to have to spend to advocate for our members.
I think that's the major point, and not the language that might result if and when this initiative passes. I think we're straining at gnats.
Chairman Riggs. Obviously, we disagree. I believe that this language would go a long ways towards addressing the concerns that were brought out in the poll that I just recently cited, where an appallingly low percentage of rank-and-file union members actually know their Beck rights, number one.
I also believe that this kind of language would help people like my friend and constituent Karan Koog feel that they would not be compromised in any fashion. This language would affect in any way their collective bargaining rights, but they would have the opportunity to at least retain or receive a refund of a portion of their political dues that are used for express political purposes with which they disagree.
Ms. Sanchez. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you for the opportunity to wrap up. I'll try to keep it short.
I'm always amazed at these hearings because I learn so much. For example, I just learned that my colleague Mr. Riggs believes in polls. Polls are basically taking a sample of things. He cited two polls. He's thrilled by Ms. Reneau's poll. And I'm sitting here thinking, where else have I encountered the issue of sampling and seen how my colleague has viewed that?
I believe it was the sampling issue in the census. And I'm really amazed you believe in polls, Mr. Riggs. I'm glad you do. I hope when the sampling issue comes up for California next year, something that's so important to the way that we fund programs here in California because of population, that you'll remember what you said here today about polls, how we should be looking at sampling -- that's what polls are. They take a sample of how people feel.
I'm amazed and I'm gratified. And I'm going to remind you of your enthusiasm for polls when the need be.
You know, I'm also overwhelmed at the fact that this initiative and much of what we've talked about today is about putting incredible administrative restrictions on unions in an effort to divert the real resources of unions from getting a better collective bargain out there; from being able to negotiate; from being able to stand up for union members; and, of course, for advocating one way or another on issues that are important to working people.
And I will tell you that I am the first person to stand up in almost any gathering and say that unions should hold accountable not just Republicans for their votes on issues affecting working people, but Democrats also. That is known about me.
So when I think about the fact that this bill is really about a burden, an extreme burden, on just one class of people, working people, it flies in the face of what I hear so often on the floor of the House: how government should stay out of the way; how we shouldn't be shackling people; and how we need to make our 1040s easy, really easy.
I hope that you understand that there is real inconsistency in H.R. 1625. When we get back to Washington, D.C. and put this on the House floor, I hope that you will remember how you stand on other issues about overburdening people and administration and requiring people to sign little pieces of paper every single year, et cetera, et cetera.
I am against something like this. It is an administrative burden. It is wrong. And when I take a look at it, I say to myself, why are you going after labor?
And I would agree with you, Mr. Souder, that it's time for campaign finance reform. And maybe we can do a Filner-Souder-Sanchez bill to clean up some of the huge amounts of money that come into these campaigns. But again, I hope that when we get back to Washington, D.C. we do defeat this bill, because we need to. It is burdensome to the working class.
With that, I will yield back to --
Chairman Riggs. Congressman Souder.
Mr. Souder. Chairman Riggs, I and many others really believe sampling is very valuable, but don't believe that we should not have elections or you shouldn't get hard numbers, just like businesses use sampling and estimates all the time, but actually get their profits based on their real sales, not on estimates. Ms. McGill -- and I'm not sure whether Ms. Giles made the same statement, but I think so -- you had said earlier in the hearing that you had some forms that you give employees that clarify their rights. Would you submit for the record those forms?
Ms. McGill. Certainly. I'd be glad to. I don't have them on me, but I --
Mr. Souder. Oh, no. We will have the hearing record open for at least a week, if you could submit those.
One of the things I wanted to ask Mr. Williams, just so we can clarify again, that this is not a matter of government intervention. In fact, Ms. Giles said earlier that her union members support their union policy. And, in fact, they do. They would probably overwhelmingly give their money to the union to spend in that way, would they not?
Mr. Williams. I'm sitting here almost shocked because I've heard a lot of discussion about how we have to respect the democratic vote of our members.
In Washington State, 73 percent of the voters say we want this. But the unions are more. The unions went from 48,000 to 8,000. They said no. Only 8,000. And what's the requirement? Simply to fill out an annual slip. And it's all done by Blue Cross of Washington. This is not an administrative nightmare. The state employees are even more amazing. State employees went from 30,000 to 25,000.
Now, when the new law kicked into effect this year, which said no payroll deductions for public employees -- and that doesn't count teachers -- more than 40,000 members, do you know how many contributed to the PAC? 84. What does that say about their agenda?
And if we're talking about a democratic vote, we're not respecting the members' vote when we go and take their mandatory dues and use it for political purposes. And that's what's happening. That is what's happening. We're not talking about the PAC contribution. We're talking about using their mandatory dues, irrespective of what the members say.
In our state, the polls say 30 percent of the members are Republican, 30 percent are Independent and 40 percent are Democrat. Well, even the Democrats don't go for the liberal agenda that the militant leadership is pushing.
But we don't respect that. One time we talk about Democratic, and the next time we don't.
Mr. Souder. But the fact is if they did support the policies, they can give the --
Mr. Williams. They can give. Nothing prevents them from giving. And they can give as much as they want.
Mr. Souder. With all due respect to union members, business employees, in the sense of management, employees and others don't have a high percentage of voluntary giving, either. Part of it is that a lot of people are somewhat legitimately turned off with the political process. But we shouldn't use high and mighty tone to talk about this being voluntary when, in fact, it isn't, and most people wouldn't.
We are not depriving anybody's rights like a heavy-handed government. What we're saying is all people should be treated alike, regardless of where they are.
I also wanted to reiterate, in closing, that I am concerned, as we move towards campaign finance reform, that we don't tilt it in either direction. I think Mr. Filner made a great point about the soft money because it is in fact, used by both sides involuntarily. I'm sure in the Beck decision that 79 percent partly dealt with soft money and partly dealt with direct candidate advocacy. If we're going to address facts and soft money -- which I believe we probably, should -- we also need to address Beck. We also, as a side point, need to address millionaires who come in and dump in a bunch of money. Otherwise, what we'll do is tie the hands of union members, tie the hands of businesses, and find that self-financed millionaires will come in, and both parties will look for that.
We have to look for a fair, comprehensive type of approach. And I believe that if both sides will move a little bit, we can keep the balance from being distorted in that process. And hopefully, as we move through, we'll see some types of working through in that way.
And I appreciate the opportunity to be here in California. As I was leaving Indiana, the big question was, could we get out before the blizzard. It's a little different. It's windy.
I yield back.
Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Congressman Souder.
Mr. Filner. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I thank the witnesses and the members and staff and the audience who have stayed with us for the full length of time here. I'll just try to be brief, here.
It is my understanding that most of the funding that went into putting this initiative on the ballot came from folks like Mr. Rooney, to whom we referred before, and Mr. Norquist, and their organizations, which are not interested particularly in these high-flow arguments over the right to choose and preventing intimidation.
This is part of a nationwide political attack on one part of the political spectrum. That is clear. We can look at the funding. We can look at these arguments. This is an attack on one part of the body politic, as we say. This attack will be resisted by those of us who understand what this is all about.
If you allowed the equal testimony of employee "A" and employee "B" who are part of the management of a corporation and felt as intimidated and as brow-beaten and as subject to peer pressure as the witness that I heard today, and, if you tell me that people who give to corporate PACs do so in a voluntary way, I just don’t buy the argument that the Chairman used to distinguish between union dues and corporate PACs.
We can justify all we want. I mean, you will use the freedom of choice argument, and we will use analogies to that. But this is a political bout. And I don't think it's right. I don't think it's fair. I don't think it's going to win. As Congressman Souder mentioned, we ought to be concentrating on a fair campaign financing system for this nation; one that allows reasonable amounts of money to be spent in the exercise of constitutional rights and freedom of speech, but puts some sort of cap on the ridiculous amounts of money that are being raised and spent through the acquiescence, of only a few people who have the power to make those expenditures.
So I appreciate the hearing, but I think you could tell, if you look at the report of the members here, that Ms. Sanchez and I are speaking for one part of the political spectrum that believes you're attacking them because they stand for certain things that you disagree with. It's your right to disagree, but we're going to resist that attack. We're going to stand up for employment opportunities, for healthcare for all, for educational excellence, for housing opportunities. We're going to continue that fight.
The unions have been in the forefront of that fight. They have been the leaders throughout this nation's history in the fight for those causes. The folks in Congress, and Mr. Norquist and Mr. Rooney, object to that. And they are trying to put an end to the people who have stood in the forefront of the fight on behalf of all Americans. And it's not going to succeed, because we're going to stop them.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Riggs. I thank Mr. Filner.
Mr. Souder. Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Riggs. Yes.
Mr. Souder. I would ask your indulgence. I'd like to once more make a comment.
Patrick Rooney, Pat Rooney, is a fellow Hoosier. He has not given me money, although I would, in the interest of full disclosure, say one person from his company gave me $500 in my first campaign because I agreed with him on insurance issues. And I knew him through Dan Coats' office.
But sometimes all of us do it. We label everybody in a certain way and assume everybody is exactly the same way. But I think it's important for the record to show that there are multiple reasons people get involved.
There is a very individualistic person. He has a company called Golden Rule, whose name is derived from what you would think, that he made --
Mr. Filner. You mean he who has the gold rules?
Mr. Souder. Funny. But it's the golden rule of life. That --which is not -- that's the antithesis of.
That he became concerned as an individual that a lot of people weren't getting involved in urban issues, and went into inner city in Indianapolis and joined an overwhelmingly black church where he attends. Through that, not because he had been a political activist, because he had never been in any other political activities, he got involved in some of his scholarship programs. He may disagree or agree with his things.
That's why I said earlier, he would be not in disagreement with what Ms. Giles said about him. He described himself as conservative, rather than right wing. But his motives were sincere. You may feel they're wrong.
And I wanted to say that for the record.
Chairman Riggs. Yes. And I appreciate the gentleman.
I should also, in the spirit of full disclosure, acknowledge that I know Mr. Rooney. I have met with him in my capacity as the Education Subcommittee Chairman. I have marveled and I applaud what he has done in terms of helping. He's one of many philanthropic Americans who have helped provide private tuition, scholarships, to the low-income inner-city parents so that their children would have a way out of failing or unsafe schools.
Mr. Filner. I also know him, in the spirit of full disclosure.
Ms. Sanchez. I don't know him.
Chairman Riggs. All right. Under the Chairman's prerogative, if my colleagues will maintain decorum here for just a moment, we will conclude today's hearing by saying that I personally, and I know I speak for my colleagues, thank each of our witnesses.
I was particularly struck by Mr. Williams' final comments. And all too often, Mr. Williams, you know this because of your own legislative background and experience, we have a tendency to talk right past one another. You've seen that on display today at times.
So I thank you personally and I certainly applaud the good work the Commissioner is doing in the State of Oklahoma, because you have helped shed some light on a subject where there is a great deal of heat and considerable emotion.
I also want to say, just so I'm very clear on this, that going back to your testimony, Ms. McGill, you said you may ask what is wrong with acquiring such an annual affirmative declaration; after all, shouldn't we ask our members about how their dues are spent? That might be a good idea, and we might consider it. Speaking on behalf of the CTA, the California Teachers Association.
I think you've made it very clear, you and Ms. Giles, by your testimony today that you have no intention of considering this, short of it being imposed through the democratic -- small D -- process, by a majority of California voters.
I believe that is why a group of non-union teachers has recently sued eight California school districts and the union affiliates, the local chapters of the CTA, for allegedly deducting union dues from their paychecks without discussing how the money would be spent. That lawsuit is now pending in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco.
I'm going to submit this AP newspaper article on the lawsuit for the record.
[The information follows:]
ASSOCIATED PRESS ARTICLE FROM MARIN INDEPENDENT JOURNAL, DECEMBER 7, 1997 – SEE APPENDIX M
Chairman Riggs. Ultimately, this is a matter of fundamental civil rights and fundamental fairness; someone's right to association, to speech, to freedom of expression. We value and cherish these rights unless, it seems, we are a union and we want the power of influence and money in the political process.
Duke Cunningham talked about his experience, the feedback he's received from some of his constituents who are rank-and-file union members. I've had a similar experience. And I want to stipulate for the record that at age 18, I was a member of the Teamsters union. I believe in collective bargaining. I was the Republican author, in the last Congress, of the minimum wage increase. Because I believe it's very difficult for people to make a transition from Welfare to work, when work doesn't pay a living wage.
That said, I fervently believe in this legislation. I believe it has to be part of campaign finance reform. I believe it is an issue or an idea whose time has come. And I'm very glad we were able to have this hearing today because it has provided us, I think, with more information to make our case back in Washington for the Worker Paycheck Fairness Act. The legislation will come before the House next year.
As Mr. Filner put it, we will then put it to a debate up or down, and we will let the majority in the Congress have the final say.
Again, I thank our witnesses. I thank the audience for their attendance. And with that, our field hearing is concluded, and the Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations stands adjourned.
[Whereupon, the subcommittee was adjourned.]