The blatant ploy to keep labor unions’ political power

Last week, the US Supreme Court Court struck a huge blow for public-sector workers’ rights. Now Assemblyman Dick Gottfried is rushing to make sure that doesn’t harm the most powerful force in New York politics: public-employee unions.

The high court banned the mandatory “agency” fees that public-sector unions have long collected from workers who refuse to join. That will cost New York unions an estimated $112 million a year. But Gottfried wants an end-run — one that’s likely to wind up sticking taxpayers with the bill.

According to a memo leaked to the Empire Center, the West Side Democrat’s plan would officially let employers agree to “direct reimbursement” of collective bargaining expenses to the unions, and cover that cost as a deduction in workers’ paychecks.

Gottfried insists this would actually reduce workers’ salaries proportionately, but don’t bet on it. As the Empire Center’s Ken Girardin notes, given the realities of union bargaining, it’s unlikely that any worker would see a pay cut.

Moreover, essentially preserving the agency fees through a different channel raises its own constitutional issues.

The Supreme Court ruling, after all, was based on free-speech grounds: Because public unions bargain with government — including officials to whom they give political support — the unions’ activities are inherently political.

That’s how New York public unions have won the political clout to win lavish retirement packages and other benefits that are rapidly bankrupting the state and city.

And what Dick Gottfried wants to do is nothing less than to protect that clout, at the price of costing the taxpayers that much more.

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