A major California local affiliate of the Service Employees International Union has given its members sticker shock over a 50 percent dues increase. And, no, it doesn’t seem the added cost comes with free maid service. Members are not happy. California’s Capitol Weekly news source says:
… critics allege that funds are being misappropriated by an unaccountable leadership. “To them, we are a huge ATM machine,” says Hamidi. “Because of that, they spend, spend, spend. There’s a lack of efficiency.”
Hamidi points out that a large portion of dues are redirected to SEIU national headquarters. According to a fact sheet on Local 1000’s website, its affiliation with the national organization comprised about 20 percent of the union’s 2006 budget.
Many say they are unwilling to pay for such a large increase when Californians will not be reaping the benefits. Alex Hernandez, who is a member of California State Employees United (or CSEUnited), another “loyal opposition” group, says a top-heavy management structure is problematic. “Obviously, there is a spending problem.”
The reason the union bosses need the additional money is a key part of the story:
Local 1000 has experienced financial strife in recent years, especially following their battle against a 2005 initiative that would have required unions obtain written consent from members before using dues money for political purposes. Though the measure ultimately lost, the campaign helped put the union $6.7 million in the red.
So … apparently SEIU bosses have to raise dues because they spent their previous dues money fighting an initiative that would have given members more say over use of their dues money. Gotcha.