*This letter to the editor originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal*
***State's 'Paycheck Protection' Law Is Flawed***
**May 25, 2007; Page A13**
Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire and Washington Education Association (WEA) union officials certainly deserve criticism for their last-ditch effort to tamper with the pending *Davenport v. WEA* Supreme Court case. But your May 17 editorial "Paycheck Protection End Run" grossly inflated the impact of the underlying Washington law at issue in the case.
While well-meaning, Washington's so-called "paycheck protection" law has not reduced the mandatory dues union officials collect from employees for political activism because it contains fundamental flaws. The law is merely a campaign finance regulation that governs a tiny percentage of union political activity at the state level, so union officials simply adjusted their accounting methods, tweaked their spending practices, and continued business as usual. In fact, analyses of the teachers union's finances shortly after the "paycheck protection" law took effect showed that union officials spent 60% more dues money on politics. The spending has continued to increase ever since.
Fortunately, the pending Davenport case goes beyond simply defending this hollow law.
National Right to Work Foundation attorneys brought Davenport on behalf of 4,000 nonunion teachers and are asking the high court to clarify that employees who resign from union membership are inherently "dissenters" against paying for union activities. This simple clarification would free one million nonunion workers in America of the union requirement to object affirmatively every single year -- simply to reclaim hundreds of dollars deducted from their paychecks.
With their "emergency" amendment (which itself happens to be unconstitutional), Gov. Gregoire and her union benefactors hope to give the Supreme Court an excuse not to rule. But their concern is not that the "paycheck protection" law had ever drained the unions' political coffers. Their real fear is a ruling that strengthens the First Amendment protections available to America's employees forced to pay union dues.
National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation