Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Union dues funding liberal causes

And honestly I don't care that they do, but I'm glad for the new federal rules requiring greater disclosure, and I wish union members had a choice as to whether or not they would like their dues to go to these causes. I was really hoping California voters would have approved Arnold's initiative to allow for this, but they didn't, so these are they types of situations union members should be made aware of.

(Opinion Journal) If we told you that an organization gave away more than $65 million last year to Jesse Jackson's Rainbow PUSH Coalition, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Amnesty International, AIDS Walk Washington and dozens of other such advocacy groups, you'd probably assume we were describing a liberal philanthropy. In fact, those expenditures have all turned up on the financial disclosure report of the National Education Association, the country's largest teachers union.

Under new federal rules pushed through by Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, large unions must now disclose in much more detail how they spend members' dues money. Big Labor fought hard (if unsuccessfully) against the new accountability standards, and even a cursory glance at the NEA's recent filings--the first under the new rules--helps explain why. They expose the union as a honey pot for left-wing political causes that have nothing to do with teachers, much less students.

I'm all in favor of the concept of full disclosure here. In fact I wish that McCain and Feingold's finance reform from a few years back had gone for full public disclosure of poltical donors as opposed to limiting how much someone can donate to a candidate.

[...]The new disclosure rules mark the first revisions since 1959 and took effect this year. "What wasn't clear before is how much of a part the teachers unions play in the wider liberal movement and the Democratic Party," says Mike Antonucci of the Education Intelligence Agency, a California-based watchdog group. "They're like some philanthropic organization that passes out grant money to interest groups."[...]

When George Soros does this sort of thing, at least he's spending his own money. The NEA is spending the mandatory dues paid by members who are told their money will be used to gain better wages, benefits and working conditions. According to the latest filing, member dues accounted for $295 million of the NEA's $341 million in total receipts last year. But the union spent $25 million of that on "political activities and lobbying" and another $65.5 million on "contributions, gifts and grants" that seemed designed to further those hyper-liberal political goals. [That's over 30% of dues (over 26% of total receipts) going to "causes"]

The good news is that for the first time members can find out how their union chieftains did their political thinking for them, by going to www.union-reports.dol.gov, where the Labor Department has posted the details.

I think most people paying unions dues would be astonished at these types of figures and at the causes supported by their unions. In a union? Take a look and see where your money goes.