Overcoming the Free Rider Problem


Harris v. Quinn raises the question of whether unions will be able to collect dues from workers who are under no obligation to pay them.  Because unions have to provide representation even to workers who decline to pay dues, Harris presents a classic free rider problem for unions.  Is this an insurmountable problem?  I’ve argued that it needn’t be, and today there is some preliminary evidence that it is not.  As the Wall Street Journal reports, AFSCME has been engaged in an internal organizing effort to convert agency fee payers to full-fledged (no pun intended) members.  That is, the union is trying to increase the number of workers who voluntarily pay full union membership dues.  The union’s goal for July 1 was to convert 50,000 workers to full membership.  Not only has the union reached that goal, it has added 92,000 union-represented workers to the membership rolls this year.  And…

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About @NatM4Equity

The National Mobilization for Equity is a coalition of organizations committed to alleviating the present staffing crisis in higher education: three-quarters of the teaching jobs in American colleges are held by underpaid, precarious and poorly-supported contingent faculty. Our long-term goal is to end contingency as the norm. The current untenable situation not only adversely affects all faculty members, both contingent and tenure-track, it also negatively impacts our profession, our students and the quality of their education.

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