“At two points in my life I was required to pay union dues to stay employed.

“It’s been almost 25 years since I’ve been [retired from the police force]. My sense is the union is more political now.

“My police union first started in the early ‘70s, late ‘60s. They came in with their organizing movement and they were successful in getting the patrolmen organized. I wasn’t real happy about it, but it was either you join or pay your fair share, which I recall was the same amount anyway …

“They started talking strike. We never did have to go to a strike vote. But I wouldn’t have walked. I would have been one of the ones who stayed, crossed the picket line. I didn’t think it was right to walk out. I had a wife and a young baby I needed to support. I’d be walking off the job I had to do a lot to get.

“My second time [in a union] was a retirement job, I was a school bus driver for two years. I had to join the IEA. Again, one time they were talking about taking a strike vote over some pay and benefit issues. I told them ‘I’m sorry I’m not walking.’ I just can’t support their political agenda. Luckily it never got to the point where they walked out. It just rankled me to no end – the political stuff that was involved with it. I wanted to go to work, go home and go to work again.

“I don’t believe [the dues aren’t spent on politics] for a second.

“I think the main reason guys joined the union was looking for better wages and benefits. That was the main impetus behind organization. And [the police union] did improve wages and benefits greatly – most unions do in the beginning. It’s a political organization now more than anything else. The members are secondary.

“If [Janus] wins … I think the only damage would be to the union in not being able to make those massive contributions to certain political candidates, and thus lose a lot of their influence.”

Rich Ayers
Oswego, Illinois