As we noted last week, Big Labor is already preparing for a possible big blow in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a Supreme Court case that could allow millions of public-sector employees to opt out of mandatory union dues. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is no exception.
Appearing on David Axelrod’s radio show last week, Mary Kay Henry, president of the SEIU, acknowledged that Big Labor could lose as many as 2 million members because of the lawsuit. In her own words, “[A]nother chunk of the movement will be gone.”
She also hinted at the reason why. When asked about the future of unions, Henry admitted that there’s a growing disconnect between union leadership and rank-and-file membership, “64 percent of our public members identify as conservative and are much more interested in the Republican debate than the Democratic debate at this moment.”
Yet the SEIU endorsed Hillary Clinton for president a full year before the 2016 election. That decision was typical of the union’s monolithic Democratic partisanship: In the 2014 election cycle, SEIU’s PACs universally supported Democrats, while a full 99.9 percent of SEIU and its affiliates’ $32 million in dues-funded advocacy in the 2014 fiscal year went to left-wing causes.
Big Labor as a whole was responsible for $140 million in political advocacy spending in 2014, 99 percent of which went to Democrat-aligned interest groups. Union Super PAC spending tells the same story: Roughly $60 million, or 89 percent, was sent to Democratic political candidates during the 2014 election cycle. In 2012, it was almost $66 million or 90 percent of the total budget.
It points to a troubling trend: Big Labor union bosses overwhelmingly pull for Democrats and left-wing causes, even though their membership is far more multifaceted.
Henry’s recent statements highlight the need for the Employee Rights Act (ERA). This national legislation would require labor organizers to obtain affirmative consent from members before spending their dues money on politics. In doing so, it would allow all union employees to decide where their salary and member dues are going.