Where did the SEIU get $150 million for politics?

posted at 9:15 am on July 28, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

That’s a question the Wall Street Journal asks, and the Justice Department wants answered.  The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has requested an investigation into the practices of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), specifically to its mandatory contribution policies.  The SEIU has forced locals to guarantee a per-member minimum contribution to their political action committee apart from its dues, and that may violate federal law:

The union adopted a new amendment to its constitution at last month’s SEIU convention, requiring that every local contribute an amount equal to $6 per member per year to the union’s national political action committee. This is in addition to regular union dues. Unions that fail to meet the requirement must contribute an amount in “local union funds” equal to the “deficiency,” plus a 50% penalty. According to an SEIU union representative, this has always been policy, but has now simply been formalized.

No other major institution could get away with its bosses demanding that every single one of its workers step in line behind its political preferences. This is the sort of imposed political obeisance that infuriates so many workers and turns them away from unions.

The SEIU political mandate may also violate federal law. Union and corporate PACs are supposed to rely on “voluntary” contributions, and it is illegal for them to use money secured by the “threat” of “financial reprisal.” It’s hard to see that an SEIU mandate enforced by financial penalties of 50% isn’t a “threat” or would qualify under any definition of “voluntary.”

There’s more. As many workers who would rather not join a union realize, employees can be required to join a union or to pay dues as a condition of employment. It is illegal, however, for a union to take these compelled union dues and use them to affect federal elections.

Combine this with the EFCA legislation, otherwise known as Card Check, and voters can draw their own conclusions about the direction of the SEIU and Big Labor.  They want to expand their pool of mandatory contributors to their PAC, and the Democrats have worked hard to deliver it.  Card Check would make it easy for union organizers to intimidate workers into voting for the union by eliminating the secret ballot, and then the SEIU and other unions could force more cash from workers into the pockets of Democrats.

As the Journal explains, SEIU chief Andy Stern is no stranger to illegal influence in elections.  Stern helped found America Coming Together in 2004, when it acted as a Kerry support group.  The 527 raised over $26 million, much of it coming from George Soros and the SEIU, while violating campaign finance laws.  ACT got a $775,000 fine from the FEC for those violations, but that happened well after the election, and after any undue influence had already occurred.

Now the SEIU suddenly has $150 million, from which they’ve already committeed at least $85 million specific to Democratic candidates.  That money got squeezed out of the locals under duress, in obvious violation of the spirit and letter of federal law.  The union knows how to protect itself and its interests, and the lockstep nature of their support for Democrats should awaken voters to the threat their policies comprise.  This is nothing more than a closed-feedback loop for Democrats, and Card Check is the prize that will ensure its rapid growth.  The Department of Justice needs to put an end to this shakedown racket immediately.

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Union Corruption? 1st I’ve heard of it!

john1schn on July 28, 2008 at 9:23 AM

Union Corruption? You’re kidding!

john1schn on July 28, 2008 at 9:24 AM

That would never happen!

/sarc for all 3

john1schn on July 28, 2008 at 9:25 AM

I wouldn’t expect much from the DOJ. One pack of Democrats always seems able to cover for another pack of Democrats.

snaggletoothie on July 28, 2008 at 9:28 AM

“Organizers” bringing hope and change to the workers. How dare you impugn their tatcics!

bbz123 on July 28, 2008 at 9:29 AM

Unions and Democrats working together, with the insinuation of corruption.
Can’t happen to the most ethical congress ever…
Pelosi will teach them a lesson, nothing gets by her.
Welcome to the /sarc hour…

right2bright on July 28, 2008 at 9:31 AM

The Department of Justice needs to put an end to this shakedown racket immediately.

Just don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen. The Dims seem to have become quite adept at using large amounts of taxpayer money to fund shakedown organizations (e.g. ACORN), and few Republicans seem interested in doing anything to stop it.

AZCoyote on July 28, 2008 at 9:31 AM

Just look the other way.

Travis1 on July 28, 2008 at 9:32 AM

What was the name of that last union guy that fell out of love with the Democrats and did prison time…. Hoffa? It worked out well for him….


CapedConservative on July 28, 2008 at 9:33 AM

Not to mention the fact that most unions take money from regular dues & use it for political purposes, usually to support Dems.

jgapinoy on July 28, 2008 at 9:35 AM

The Democrats have more rackets going than Wimbledon.

Just another case of Democrats and organized crime (redundant, I know), working together, hand in hand.

Democrats are incompetent governors, but they can demonstrate an ability to organize and make things work in one area – illegal contributions.

Every Democrat politician is nothing more than corrupt, union controlled, worthless scum.

NoDonkey on July 28, 2008 at 9:36 AM

Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your paychecks.

NoDonkey on July 28, 2008 at 9:36 AM

Per the Supreme Court Beck decision, your union must give you back the portion of your dues it uses for political purposes if you formally ask for it. Ask for it!

jgapinoy on July 28, 2008 at 9:37 AM

…if they refuse, see a lawyer!

jgapinoy on July 28, 2008 at 9:37 AM

Union boss: “I gonna make you an offah you no canna refuse!”

jgapinoy on July 28, 2008 at 9:39 AM

Unions, organized crime, and the Democrat Party…

One in the same… How else could one explain the existence of Harry Reid.

Keemo on July 28, 2008 at 9:40 AM

How much gasoline could a union worker buy with that political money?

The unions need to get off their asses and GET TO WORK organizing if they want more members. Why are they so WEAK? Why haven’t they really gone after the 2 MILLION Wal-Mart workers? Or TARGET? WHat are they offering anymore?

The hotel workers wanted to stop the tribal casinos from expanding until they got card check in there..and when their side lost…they still haven’t TRIED very hard to organize.

originalpechanga on July 28, 2008 at 9:46 AM

if you formally ask for it. Ask for it!

jgapinoy on July 28, 2008 at 9:37 AM

yeah and then you get a visit from vinny, vito, and ‘the boys’…..

right4life on July 28, 2008 at 9:46 AM

Vinnie, Vito, and ‘the boys”…..

Is it any wonder that the president of my union is named Vinnie Sombrotto?

jgapinoy on July 28, 2008 at 9:51 AM

jgapinoy on July 28, 2008 at 9:51 AM

has he uh made you an offer you can’t refuse??


right4life on July 28, 2008 at 9:54 AM

Unions should never have progressed any further than the Tolpuddle conspiracy judgement.

OldEnglish on July 28, 2008 at 9:57 AM

I work in government, so that means I must be in a union, or pay the same amount of money per payperiod without a chance to vote.

I changed jobs a while ago, so I left AFSCME and their abortion supporting expenditures for a bargaining unit affiliated with SEIU.

I’ve never believed unions are all bad. And I’ve seen enough horrible management (let alone political interference) that I think there is a place for unions in government. I also believe that unions who represent government workers should be under some Hatch Act like law that would prevent this sort of thing…. But that danged First Amendment seems to get in the way….

darkpixel on July 28, 2008 at 9:57 AM

I work for government here in California. I don’t belong to a union, but state law forces me to pay SEIU over $1,100 a year in “agency fees” to “administer” the contract. We have a three year contract with the county that covers 12,000 employees. I would love for SEIU to explain to me why it takes hundreds of dollars a year from me to “administer” my portion of the labor contract. I do get about one-third of the agency fees returned to me every year, after I jump through the hoops of “declining” to support the union.
The whole thing is a racket and should be outlawed. NO ONE should be forced to support a political organization, i.e a union, that he doesn’t support.

sdillard on July 28, 2008 at 10:15 AM

One can only hope that the payback from Union membership will be a bitch….

PatriotPete on July 28, 2008 at 10:17 AM

Now you understand why obama wants to instate mandatory union membership.

Nahanni on July 28, 2008 at 10:18 AM

These aren’t the droids you’re looking for…

You can go about your business…

move along…

juanito on July 28, 2008 at 10:18 AM

This is nothing but an Illegal Alien chunte Union. What’s funny is when Arnold proposes to cut their pay to minimum wage and don’t touch the taxpayer benefits of Illegal Alien chuntes, the SEIU starts whining like the little bi***** that they are. Don’t they want to bite the bullet for their La Raza brothers???? ha ha ha

DfDeportation on July 28, 2008 at 10:22 AM

Unfortunately, registrars at the hospital where I work have to join this union.

They keep sending me Obama propaganda. They even had the CHUTZPAH to send me sign up cards to work for the Obama campaign. They were postage pre-paid, so I sent them back with big red letters telling them to stop spending my dues on politics and NOBAMA!!

It’s one thing to have a union to negotiate contracts and resolve disputes. It’s another thing when they think they have the right to tell you how to think and vote.

Mommynator on July 28, 2008 at 10:34 AM

As a former resident of Detroit, home of JIMMY HOFFA and the TEAMSTERS UNION, let me say, there is no such thing as UNION CORRUPTION… RIIIGGGHHHTTT??? RIIIGGGHHHTTT!!!

pueblo1032 on July 28, 2008 at 10:40 AM

We are so screwed if Barack Obama wins this election and has a Democratic majority in Congress.

–Unions in control of Justice and Labor Departments, forcing open elections, increased mandatory contributions to union PACs which will all go to elect more Democrats.
–Amnesty for all illegal aliens, who will of course immediately join the unions that helped get them their amnesty, and register to vote.

= permanent Democratic majorities in Congress and most state legislatures.

Scared yet???

rockmom on July 28, 2008 at 10:40 AM

A group of us once filed a federal lawsuit against our CA union because of their “fair share” practices. Fair share dues were about one dollar less than regular dues! We discovered through our lawsuit that, lo and behold, over 80% of our dues went to political candidates (all Dems) rather than union services. The court ruled, as it always does, that we were only required to pay for the portion dedicated to services. So my fair share went from $40 to $8.

So that’s where they get get the money. The unions know the rules but hope that no one will sue to enforce it. See a lawyer now!!

PattyJ on July 28, 2008 at 10:45 AM

Yet another reason to avoid using union labor.

I mean besides the fact that they charge twice as much for an imcomplete job.

If I want to contribute to the absolutely worthless Democrat Party, I’ll go to the DNC directly and eliminate the union man.

Don’t support the Democrats/Don’t use union labor.

NoDonkey on July 28, 2008 at 11:00 AM

Don’t hold your breathe folks..

Just looked it up, Fed Elect Comm is finally back up to full strength, as of June 24, when the Senate fianlly filled four out of six seats…

But it will take time for them to come up to speed…

Romeo13 on July 28, 2008 at 11:10 AM

But Mandatory Card Check is for the workers!!!

MayBee on July 28, 2008 at 11:15 AM

it’s strange that the “Freedom of choice” does not include the freedom to choose.

Blaise on July 28, 2008 at 11:21 AM

The Department of Justice needs to put an end to this shakedown racket immediately.


The Dept. of Justice under Bush has forgone so many of its obligations in order to facilitate his changes for bigger bureaucracy and policy limiting employees’ responsibility to fulfill Constitutional requirements of government job descriptions. Rather than clarifying anything or helping anything become precise, Bush has tossed the rule of law into the melting pot, not the refiner’s fire, but the rock soup melting pot for illegal consumption.

Under Dubya:
* At the conclusion of his second term, a minimal shakedown of illegal employment given illegal aliens in the USA who are empowered by progressive sanctuary mentality granted to criminals contrary to the express directive from the majority of citizens: secure the borders and no amnesty to illegals!
* Federal miscarraige of justice prosecuting US troops innocent of charges to the ruin of their lives, character, and morale.
* Federal non-prosecution of racketeers and organized green thugs like those at bicycle rallies publicly destroying private property and committing bodily harm to those in automobiles who are going about their daily work routine.
* Federal funding of criminal banking practices and the legislative undoing of legal bulwarks meant to prevent such criminal banking privileges to illegal aliens and non-qualifying customers, DEVELOPERS and shareholders all at the taxpayers’ expense. And why would Bush endorse it? Precisely to hold back the respectable, working Americans who live within their means. Bush would deprive us as though we haven’t the brains or brawn to know better how to uphold our Constitution.

Lame duck gone fishing calling us $ucker$.

maverick muse on July 28, 2008 at 11:37 AM

Imagine that another one way street for liberals.

jukin on July 28, 2008 at 11:52 AM

It’s hard to see that an SEIU mandate enforced by financial penalties of 50% isn’t a “threat” or would qualify under any definition of “voluntary.”

Actually Harry Ried considers this voluntary.

clghitis on July 28, 2008 at 4:21 PM