Unions in America were formed to give working people a voice in their negotiations with their sometimes unyielding employers. Most of the demands unions were created to pursue are now covered by government regulations, and the role of unions in the life of the everyday worker is not what it originally was. Union workers pay their dues, and union officials live very well. Somehow I don’t think that was what the original intention was.
The Washington Free Beacon posted a story today about how the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) spends its money. For those of you who believe that big corporations provide the money in politics, some of this may come as a surprise.
The article reports:
Labor giant Service Employees International Union spent $60 million on politics and lobbying as well as $19 million on the Fight for 15 movement in 2016, and now finds itself laying off headquarters staff.
The union’s federal filing to the Department of Labor reveal that it experienced marginal growth in 2016, adding about 15,000 members from 2015. However, that increase did not correlate with financial growth as revenue fell by $17 million, fueling a $10 million budget deficit.
The union, which represents healthcare and public sector workers, spent $61.6 million on political activities and lobbying in 2016, roughly 20 percent of its $314.6 million budget, according to the filing.
However, those figures may underestimate its political spending. The union spent $19 million on activist groups and public relations consultants to assist with the Fight for 15 campaign, which has successfully pushed for dramatic minimum wage increases in New York, California, and Washington, D.C., according to an analysis from the Center for Union Facts.
Who represents those union members who don’t support the causes and candidates that the union leaders decide to support? Do union members ever get a chance to vote on the causes or candidates the union will support?
The article further reports:
“The SEIU has transformed from a labor union into a subsidiary of the Left, spending millions of dues dollars on left-wing causes unrelated to collective bargaining,” Berman (Richard Berman, executive director of the Center for Union Facts) said. “Instead of fighting for workplace benefits, the union is going behind their members’ backs to bankroll Democrats and liberal advocacy groups.”
The International Franchising Association, a trade industry group whose members have been targeted by the Fight for 15 movement, said that political agitation and the expansion of membership ranks among fast food workers does little to benefit dues-paying members.
“Perhaps SEIU should spend more money helping workers it represents and less money attacking corporations and a business model like franchising that actually successfully lifts people out of poverty and gives them a ladder of opportunity to advance in their career,” spokesman Matthew Haller said.
I have no problem with unions spending money on political activities as long as the members of the union have a vote in which activities to support. Also, as long as unions are free to spend the kind of money they spend on political action, corporations should be equally free to do so, again at the discretion of their stockholders.