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Advertise on the Tentacle

January 6, 2006

A true crime story

Richard B. Weldon Jr.

Washington State employee Debbie Koepp is about to be fired from her job. She has worked for the state for nine years. The story behind this shows a real crime about to be committed.

Unlike most negative personnel actions, Mrs. Koepp is not being fired for failing to do her job. In fact, she has received several awards for her work. She was twice named employee of the year for her work unit.

Debbie Koepp can thank the American organized labor movement for the loss of her job. That's right; unions are to blame for her termination.

You see Debbie Koepp is automatically a member of a professional employees union as a function of her employment. Along with her automatic enrollment comes an obligation to pay the union for their services.

Unfortunately, her personal interests clash with the government-sponsored big labor money-laundering scheme. Mrs. Koepp has no interest in paying union dues, she didn't want their representation, didn't ask for it, and wouldn't join if it were her choice.

Mrs. Koepp objected to the idea that huge sums of union dues receipts were paid out in campaign contributions by the union. She felt that the candidates the union supported didn't represent her deeply held personal beliefs.

In Washington State, the Democrat governor had signed a bill into law that forces state employees to join and pay union dues. Employees who fail to pay this "tribute" can be placed on a list by the union and will then be terminated from state service.

No due process, no rights of appeal, just pay up or ship out.

This termination is related only to their failure to pay dues, not in any way connected to the quality of their work as a state employee.

Big labor makes an interesting but plainly stupid argument in support of the theft of dues payments from government employees. They suggest that they work hard on behalf of state employees, so those same workers should happily pay for that hard work.

You know, hard work like protests marches on health care, homelessness, abortion rights, and regulatory intervention into private industry. Hard work like millions spent to elect liberal lunkheads who will turn a deaf ear to any legislative proposal that doesn't have the "pro-union" stamp on it.

Debbie Koepp and a number of her coworkers have had enough. They've had enough of the hate mail, the threatening phone calls, and the bullying of their children by pro-union families. They've decided to file a class action lawsuit against both the union and the state.

So, who is this evil person who would trample on the rights of other workers and ignore the supposed benefits of the warm and loving embrace of a labor union? Well, she's the wife of a retired and disabled veteran who was awarded six Purple Hearts. She's the mother of five sons, three of whom are serving their country now and a fourth who had served and was discharged.

No doubt there will be a flood of legal support offers to battle this socialization of the government workplace. No one should be subject to termination based solely on the whim of a labor union. In an odd turn of events, weren't unions supposed to be protecting workers from this kind of baloney?

As much as the actions of a professional workers union turn my stomach, even more pathetic is the action of the governor for allowing this to become law.

Big labor recognized the shift in the economy from industrial to service jobs long before Wall Street. Instead of standing out on the street in front of the textile plant, today's union organizers work in Starbucks near government offices.

Right here in Frederick, we had a mayoral candidate and several aldermanic candidates who spoke favorably about the possibility of a labor union to represent city workers. Union reps sprinkled money around, taking care of those who promised to take care of them.

My favorite response to this scourge was Randy McClement, who told the unions and anyone else who would listen that if a labor union could show him how having a union involved with city workers would help city taxpayers, he' d be happy to consider their opinion. No one ever called.

Consider New York City's recent labor union experience. Unions that represent public sector employees are prevented from job actions like strikes and sick outs. This prohibition is clearly spelled out in their collective bargaining agreements.

So what did union head Roger Toussaint do when the New York City Transit Authority refused to acquiesce on a union benefit demand? He ordered an illegal strike, that's what. Millions of city commuters were forced to walk miles through frigid temperatures. Store owners and restaurants lost millions in what should have been their busiest week of the year.

Even the parent transportation workers union organization called the local's action illegal, but their protests fell on deaf ears. The leadership of the local was more concerned with making a statement than serving the public's best interests.

Therein lies the rub with these government employee unions. Public transportation and public safety demand constant vigilance and commitment from a workforce, not the whims and ill temper of some local labor despot.

Liberal state and federal courts could very well uphold this quasi-criminal behavior. Like the Genovese, Columbo, and Gambini crime families before them, organized labor can count on some cover from regulators elected through labor donations and sympathetic judges to find in their favor.

The big difference may be the U.S. Supreme Court. Court appointments from Republican administrations should draw a hard line against this destructive practice. The appointment of Judge Samuel Alito to the nation' highest court becomes more important now than ever.

Many thought Judge Alito would be the deciding vote on the abortion question. In the end, he might be the deciding vote in protecting the public and independent-minded government workers from the predatory practices of labor, who are always more concerned about buying political influence than representing the American worker.

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