WASHINGTON – Labor unions across the country sent nearly $1.1 billion in member dues to hundreds of advocacy groups aligned with the Democratic Party from 2010 to 2016, according to new research.
Unions, including the AFL-CIO and IBEW, have provided Planned Parenthood, the Clinton Foundation, the Democratic Governors Association and dozens of leftist groups hundreds of millions of dollars, a report from Center for Union Facts reveals.
What’s more egregious, the communications director of the Center for Union Facts, Luka Ladan, explained in an interview with WND, is that union members are in the dark about how their dues are being spent.
The billion-plus dollars unions have distributed to liberal advocacy groups that are generally anti-Republican were allocated without obtaining prior member approval.
“This is the most comprehensive analysis of union advocacy spending ever done. Under current labor law, these officials are required to obtain permission before spending money on political candidates or super-PACs, but not for political advocacy,” Laden explained Friday. “That means liberal advocacy groups from the Clinton Foundation, to Planned Parenthood, to Center for American Progress, groups like that that advocate a left-wing political agenda.”
Union membership is far uniform politically. Approximately 40 percent of union households reportedly vote Republican in any given election.
If given a choice, these union members would undoubtedly refuse to support union officials’ left-wing political crusade with their money, Ladan argued.
“The minority of union members do lean right; they are effectively being silenced by their union representatives, which we expose with this research. The majority of union members, including pro-life members, are not aware union officials are spending this money, funding the abortion lobby without even being asked their approval before doing so,” he said.
“Big Labor doesn’t really want to publicize it.”
Hundreds of liberal groups are chronicled receiving union dues in the CUF report, which was compiled using data from the U.S. Department of Labor. Labor unions are required to file annual disclosure forms with the labor department detailing how they spent their money.
The Democratic Governors Association is the recipient of more than $14.1 million of union members’ dues, America Votes gets nearly $13 million and the Center for American Progress over $6.2 million.
Left-wing media outlets, including American Prospect, Netroots Nation, Ed Schultz Broadcasting, The Nation Institute and The Progressive Inc., were the recipients of $8,858,920 of union members’ dues.
CUF found in a report published Sept. 19 that the political contributions total 99 percent of their total advocacy budget.
“Big labor has become the ATM of the Democratic Party. Union officials are basically imposing their own left-wing political agenda on their members in many cases. That’s what we were trying to demonstrate with this research – the disconnect between union officials and their members and hold them accountable to employees not the Democratic establishment.”
Union officials are currently not legally required to obtain permission from their members before they spend their money on political causes.
CUF is lobbying for approval of the Employee Rights Act, H.R. 2723, in Washington. The legislation, introduced last May, would provide workers with protections enabling them to select or refrain from representation by labor unions.
H.R. 2723 would require union leadership to obtain permission from their members before spending dues money on political advocacy or liberal causes they may oppose.
The CUF ran a two-page advertisement in support of the bill Oct. 2.
“This bill be the most substantial labor reform bill passed since the 1940s. While passing legislation is never easy, especially in this climate, we are hopeful that it can pass in 2018,” Ladan said.
“The ERA registers broad-based support – not only in Congress where its co-signed by over a 160 members or the House and Senate – but also among Americans. Employees have a right to have a say as to where their money is going. We are trying to give them every opportunity to consent to something before it actually happens. It’s not political, it is a union member’s right to affirmatively consent to where their money is going, especially as it pertains to political spending.”
A separate study by CUF shows that about 80 percent of Americans – including those in union households – support a paycheck protection provision as well as other ERA reforms.
A lawsuit challenging national labor law is currently pending in the U.S. Supreme Court.
That court on Sep. 27 agreed to hear a lawsuit challenging mandatory union dues in the public-sector in Janus v. AFSCME.
The lead plaintiff, Mark Janus, an Illinois state worker who does not want to pay the fees because he disagrees with his union’s political advocacy, and two other Illinois state workers argue in their lawsuit that mandatory union dues in the public-sector violate the First Amendment.
The lawsuit claims public-sector union activities are political by nature and that no one can be required to fund political speech.
The case seeks to reverse a decades-old ruling by the court that affirmed the right of labor groups to collect fees from workers who did not want to belong to their workplace union.
The primary union named in the lawsuit is The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
The U.S. Constitution bans compelled speech, which includes being forced to fund political activities. Yet, the precedent set in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education allows unions to require dues so long as nonmembers have the option of not paying for political activity.
The Trump administration favors the arguments of Mark Janus.
“Issues like tenure for state employees, merit pay, and the size of the state workforce are about more than money: they concern no less than the proper structure and operation of government,” President Trump’s Solicitor General Noel Francisco wrote in a brief filed December in Janus vs. AFSCME. “To compel a public employee to subsidize his union’s bargaining position on these questions is to force him to support private political and ideological viewpoints with which he may strongly disagree.”
Labor unions and Democrats argued Trump is threatening the unions’ capacity to represent government workers adequately.