Government-building bulletin board used for union politics

Paul Kersey

Labor law expert, occasional smart-aleck, defender of the free society.

Paul Kersey
/ Labor
December 25, 2014

Government-building bulletin board used for union politics

The flier has nothing to do with wages and benefits earned by state employees, or how their contract is enforced.

AFSCME is allowed to have bulletin boards where it can post announcements in state buildings. This is something the union’s contract with the state provides for, with the understanding that the union should use the board to alert its members to important workplace issues. But the state’s contract with AFSCME also mandates that “the items posted shall not be political.”

Unions have long been political animals though, and that goes double for government-employee unions. So it was disappointing, but not at all shocking, to see this union flier on a bulletin board in the Howlett Building, near the state Capitol building in Springfield:

chicago_union_politics

Here’s a closer look at the flyer:

chicago_union_politics_2

The flyer details taxation of income earned by U.S. corporations overseas – a tricky issue because those same companies often pay taxes in the countries where the money was earned, and reinvest what’s left over in the same country. It also advocates for certain tax policies, such as the “Buffet Rule,” a surtax on income greater than $1 million and a tax on the trading of foreign currency and certain investment products. The flier has nothing to do with wages and benefits earned by state employees, or how their contract is enforced.

This political speech, while small, is a problem. State employees are supposed to be neutral in enforcing and applying state laws. They should not be advocates for one political position or another, at least not at the office. The state should do a better job of policing bulletin boards, and management should have the ability to take down plainly political and ideological union materials.

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