To flush their political coffer with cash, the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculty (APSCUF) runs a dues rebate campaign annually.
APSCUF designs the rebate campaign by first overcharging members on dues. Then around March, the union sends a letter to members asking them to donate excess dues to the union’s political fund. Oddly enough, the union does not give members the option of declining to donate in the letter.
Dr. Mary Ann Dailey, a professor at Slippery Rock University, describes the entire rebate process as “unfair, frustrating, and burdensome.” She has firsthand experience dealing with APSCUF. When she tried to recoup her dues, APSCUF refused to refund her own money because she missed the filing deadline.
Fed up, she decided to file an unfair labor practice against APSCUF with the help of the Fairness Center. The charge is currently being appealed. But lawmakers don’t have to wait for the courts to right this wrong. They can make union practices more transparent.
Lawmakers can require public sector unions to disclose financial information to keep members better informed. This could include the calculation of dues and fee amounts, which would allow members to determine whether unions like APSCUF are intentionally overcharging.
In a perfect world, unions would operate for the benefit of their members and not as inherently political organizations. But until that time comes, transparency will be required to help members hold their unions accountable.