There is an extremely good reason that there are so many free riders in the federal sector labor movement:  they are responding to the messages sent by the union leaders themselves.

To begin with, during organizing campaigns the union often expressly says, “we want you to sign this petition, but that doesn’t mean you have to join or pay dues,” and “please vote for the union, but if the union wins you won’t be required to join or pay dues.”

And so, eventually, 50% of the employees vote in favor of union recognition, secure in the knowledge that this does not mean their own membership is important.

The second reason for the free rider environment is that during the course of representation the union leaders insist that the union is effective notwithstanding the fact that only 30-35% of the employees are members.  The non-members accurately interpret this as saying that their joining the union is not necessary for making the union effective.


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