Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

  1. Union Political Spending Hits Record Highs

    shutterstock_150389051 (1)Big Labor is always more active in an election year, supporting the Democrats and liberal causes in line with a pro-union agenda. But 2016 is something else entirely. As The Wall Street Journal reports:

    According to the most recent campaign-finance filings, unions spent about $108 million on the elections from January 2015 through the end of August, a 38% jump from $78 million during the same period leading up to the 2012 election, and nearly double their 2008 total in the same period. Nearly 85% of their spending this year has supported Democrats.


    Almost every large union is spending more than has been seen in modern elections, financing rallies, canvassing efforts and ad campaigns to bolster Democrats. The AFL-CIO has spent $11.4 million funding outside political groups such as super PACs thus far, up from $5 million at this point in the 2012 election, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. The National Education Association has spent $14 million, up from $7.7 million.

    This doesn’t even take into account money spent on left-wing initiatives like a $15 minimum wage—the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has spent upwards of $70 million on the Fight for $15—or whatever “environmental justice” means.

    Yet, while 85 percent of union dollars have gone to the Left in 2016, a substantial minority of union members consistently vote Republican. 2012 exit polls show that 43 percent of union households voted for Republican House candidates, even though 91 percent of union political support went to Democrats. Something doesn’t add up.

    The Center for Union Facts is exempt from federal income tax under §501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not support or oppose candidates for public office.

    Categories: AFL-CIONEAPolitical MoneySEIUTeachers UnionsUnion Spending
  2. NAACP Joins Teachers Unions in Blocking Education Reform

    Writing Exams by ccarlsteadThe National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) recently went out of its way to disenfranchise minority youth, ratifying a resolution calling for a halt in the growth of charter schools. The decision came as a surprise to many education experts, with Jacqueline Cooper, president of the Black Alliance for Educational Options, stating, “It is inexplicable…”

    The NAACP’s aversion is a way of sucking up to teachers unions, which fight tooth-and-nail against school choice—a threat to their monopoly on education dollars.

    America’s largest teachers union, the National Education Association (NEA), is perhaps the most ardent opponent. Despite charter schools’ record of success (a recent Stanford University study found that charter school students received the equivalent of 40 days of additional learning a year in math and 28 additional days of learning a year in reading), NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia equated such education reform efforts to “the shameful scapegoating of America’s educators.” Some NEA members even booed presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during a speech when she said, “When schools get it right, whether they are traditional public schools or public charter schools, let’s figure out what’s working…and share it with schools across America.”

    The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is no more receptive than its sister union. AFT President Randi Weingarten has consistently opposed increased funding for charter schools, even calling for a cap on the number of such schools in Washington, D.C.

    So egregious is the union-led opposition to school choice that The New York Times’ editorial board called the NAACP’s resolution “misguided” and “nonsensical,” joining The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post in deriding charter school opponents.

    Categories: AFTNEATeachers Unions
  3. The SEIU’s Broken Promise?

    015Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), often boasts about her commitment to a $15 minimum wage and unionized fast-food industry—two alleged remedies for “the crisis of low wages.” Yet when it came to endorsing Hillary Clinton, Henry and other SEIU officials were more than willing to ignore Clinton’s skepticism of a $15 hourly wage.

    For context: The Democratic nominee supports a $12 hourly federal minimum wage, although she has backed state efforts to go higher. “Let’s not just do it for the sake of having a higher number out there,” Clinton argued in 2015. “But let’s get behind a proposal that actually has a chance of succeeding.”

    As WikiLeaks recently revealed, this noncommittal position worried some union bosses. According to an email from Nikki Budzinski, Clinton’s labor outreach director, executive board members of SEIU Local 1199—one of the fiercest Fighters for $15—“voiced concern around where the Secretary is on the minimum wage increase to $15 rather than $12.” But the SEIU’s national headquarters put that concern to rest. Peter Colavito, the union’s chief of staff, “reiterated that [Hillary Clinton’s] position on the minimum wage was not a part of their test for endorsement”—easing the way for a Clinton endorsement. (The SEIU officially backed her four days later.)

    The SEIU has spent over $70 million on the Fight for $15 thus far, and it is arguably the defining issue for the union. So it’s unusual, to say the least, for the union to give Clinton a pass on endorsing their signature effort. It begs the question: Is the SEIU more concerned about policy or politics?

    The Center for Union Facts is exempt from federal income tax under §501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not support or oppose candidates for public office.

    Categories: SEIUUnion Spending
  4. Big Labor Stoops Low in Wisconsin

    shutterstock_157245110Wisconsin was Big Labor’s Waterloo in 2012, when a heated recall election upheld Scott Walker’s governorship. His 2014 reelection victory only compounded the suffering of union bosses long opposed to Gov. Walker’s pro-employee reforms.

    Now they’re seeking payback—and the state Senate. Watchdog has more:

    Three-dozen unions have already dumped nearly $220,000 into campaign coffers benefiting seven Democrats running for state Senate, according to campaign finance records through earlier this month.


    The cash is on top of the nearly $1 million that big-government groups have spent attacking Republican incumbents and challengers.


    Groups ranging from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers to the United Transportation Union contributed at least $217,967 combined to the cause, through Sept. 7. More than half of that, $118,017, went to the State Senate Democratic Committee. The remaining contributions were marked for individual candidates.

    Especially active is the Construction Trades Coalition (CTC), which has rolled out a statewide radio campaign attacking incumbent Republican state senators. CTC has even targeted Democrats who have failed to oppose right-to-work legislation and other items on Big Labor’s wish list. For example, the outfit attacked Jimmy Anderson—a wheelchair-bound Democrat who lost his parents and brother at the hands of a drunk driver—for failing to “stand up” against Gov. Walker. (Terry McGowan, the union boss behind the advertisements, later defended the campaign.)

    For Big Labor, no stoop is too low.

    Categories: Political MoneyRight-to-WorkUnion Spending
  5. United Steelworkers Boss Busted for Embezzlement

    30 pieces of silverUnion bosses know a thing or two about the wrong side of the law. David R. Sager, the former president of the United Steelworkers Local 5000, is now under federal indictment for embezzling more than $185,000 from the union’s strike fund. Law360 has more:

    “A 29-count federal indictment has been unsealed charging David R. Sager of Gibsonburg, Ohio with embezzlement or theft from a labor union, mail fraud, obstruction of justice, and making false statements of law enforcement.”

    When Local 5000 went on strike in 2009 over a contract renewal, the union established a strike fund to provide financial relief to striking members. While overseeing the distribution of relief funds, Sager allegedly submitted over $185,000 in benefits requests, while he and his wife raked in nearly $160,000 in income. With union members mired in a prolonged strike, Sager allegedly spent dues dollars on fine restaurant dining and Carrie Underwood concert tickets. Prosecutors claim that Sager also used more than $32,000 in union money to pay for his mortgage and phone bills.

    According to U.S. Attorney Carole Rendon, “This defendant betrayed the union membership he promised to represent.”

    Categories: Crime & CorruptionGolf and Other NecessitiesLegalUnion Spending
  6. New Jersey Teachers Unions Hold Back Students

    In New Jersey, thousands of students languish on waiting lists for charter schools, desperate but unable to leave failing public schools.

    The main reason? Teachers unions, which have spent of millions of dollars attacking charter schools—and those who support them. Governor Chris Christie recently admitted as much, insisting that union bosses are keeping students trapped in “failure factories” by vilifying politicians who back school choice. Gov. Christie himself was the target of more than $10 million in attack ads during his 2012 reelection campaign. Hear his story here:

    Categories: AFTTeachers UnionsUnion Spending
  7. AFL-CIO Boss Attends Fidel Castro’s Birthday

    peekabooIt’s no secret that labor unions are fond of economic redistribution. After all, labor leaders take hundreds of millions of dues dollars from their members and give predominantly to left-leaning causes each year, even though about 40 percent of union households vote Republican. Union bosses defend this reverse Robin Hood arrangement—whereby union workers are compelled to pay for well-funded political advocacy—by claiming that they’re nonpartisan champions of the working class.

    But it’s difficult to gloss over the political biases of a union president, however, when he attends a birthday party for Fidel Castro. Fred Douglas Mason, Jr., president of the Maryland State and District of Columbia AFL-CIO, joined the birthday celebration for the retired Cuban dictator in Baltimore, which was hosted by the Baltimore chapter of the Workers World Party, an American communist party.

    Castro is remembered, of course, for establishing a one-party communist regime in Cuba after a bloody civil war and maintaining it by murdering or exiling his pro-democracy opponents. He heavily restricted free speech, ushered in an era of press censorship, outlawed peaceful assembly, squashed political dissent, and played a game of nuclear brinkmanship with the United States. The Cuba Archive project has verified over 9,000 victims of Castro’s reign of terror, and estimates that almost 78,000 innocent civilians may have died trying to flee the communist dictatorship.

    It’s hard to imagine that many union members—regardless of party affiliation—would be comfortable supporting a union boss with a soft spot for oppressive (and murderous) communist dictators.

    Categories: AFL-CIOPolitical MoneyViolence
  8. America’s Undemocratic Labor Movement

    shutterstock_194916617In most union workplaces, democracy is a thing of the past.

    The Heritage Foundation’s James Sherk recently found that labor unions represent eight million employees, only 478,000 of whom—a dismal six percent—ever voted for the union currently “representing” their interests. That’s right: 94 percent of dues-paying union members never even voted in favor of their union representation. (This is consistent with an earlier analysis from the Center for Union Facts.)

    Under current labor law, most unions have been grandfathered into the workplace—passed down from past generations, while current employees sit idly by and answer to union bosses whom they had no hand in electing. Worse yet, employees are guaranteed neither secret ballot union elections nor the opportunity to periodically re-assess their union representation through mandatory recertification votes. Leaving a union remains extremely difficult, as labor organizers have fostered a culture of intimidation pressuring employees and squashing dissent.

    How can democracy be restored?

    It’s easy: The Employee Rights Act (ERA), a popular piece of labor legislation which would guarantee secret ballot union elections and require union bosses to stand for re-election when a workplace experiences substantial turnover. Americans for Prosperity has more:

    Extending [the right of recertification] to workers in the private sector would require congressional action, but thankfully, there is already a bill to do so. Congressman Tom Price and Senator Orrin Hatch’s “Employee Rights Act,” which was endorsed by Americans for Prosperity, would require periodic union recertification elections, among other reforms, and has over 160 cosponsors.

    It’s no wonder that the ERA is supported by 80 percent of Americans, including those in union households.

    All employees deserve democracy—and they need it now.

    Categories: Center for Union FactsEmployee Rights ActEnding Secret Ballots