This election year, millions of Americans will donate to the political candidates and initiatives of their choice at the local, state, and federal levels. But for unionized workers, union dues come out of their paychecks and go to political causes—and they aren’t consulted on where that money will go.
In July, The Wall Street Journal’s Tom McGinty and Brody Mullins published an eye-opening report that “Organized labor spends about four times as much on politics and lobbying as generally thought.”
They broke down the unions’ political spending from 2005 to 2011: $1.1 billion “supporting federal candidates through their political-action committees, which are funded with voluntary contributions, and lobbying Washington, which is a cost borne by the unions’ own coffers.”
But that was only the beginning. Add to that another $3.3 billion for political activity from “polling fees, to money spent persuading union members to vote a certain way, to bratwursts to feed Wisconsin workers protesting at the state capitol last year.” Who pays for this? The workers, McGinty and Mullins report: “Much of this kind of spending comes not from members’ contributions to a PAC but directly from unions’ dues-funded coffers.”
Despite findings that 60 percent of union members object to their dues being spent on political causes, this practice continues. Why?
In the 27 states without right-to-work laws, many unions are able to put clauses in their contracts that allow them to fire workers who do not pay union dues. If a worker wants to work for a unionized firm, he or she is forced to join the union and pay the dues, which can run from several hundred to several thousand dollars a year.