The National Post carries a story today examining how union bosses use forced dues to finance their pet political causes, ie Sid Ryan.
What caught my attention in the story was the reference it makes to Merv Lavigne. As the story rightly notes, Merv was a community college teacher who went to court to the mid-1980s in an effort to stop union bosses from using dues for politicking.
What the story does not note, is that Merv could only launch his court challenge because he had the financial support of the National Citizens Coalition.
In fact, the Merv case was the first-ever NCC campaign I worked on.
Anyway, in the article Larry Haiven, a management professor at St. Mary's University, says forcing unionized employees to support causes against their will is not a big deal.
"Unions are fairly democratic organizations, believe it or not," he said. "If the membership doesn't like what the union is doing, they can remove the person that is doing it, vote against the action ... members get a say and they get a chance to raise hell."
This misses the point.
Even if 51 percent of CUPE members, for instance, supported Ryan's position on Israel, it's still wrong to force the other 49 percent to financially support a cause they don't believe in.
In a true democracy, the rights of the minority must be protected. And that includes the right to associate which also means the right not to associate.
As Thomas Jefferson said, “To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”