There were more than a few groups who were unhappy with the election of Donald Trump as the next president, and now there’s one more to add to the list. Labor unions, having experienced something of a resurgence under Barack Obama, gained a lot of mainstream attention and the “Fight for 15” raised tons of money for Democrats. They were expecting an easy ride with Hillary Clinton in office as well, but times have changed. Now, as Bloomberg reports, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is telling their members that tough times are coming and belts will need to be tightened.
In a clear sign that labor unions are bracing for lean times under Donald Trump, the massive Service Employees International Union is planning for a 30 percent budget cut over the next year, according to an internal memo reviewed by Bloomberg Businessweek.
“Because the far right will control all three branches of the federal government, we will face serious threats to the ability of working people to join together in unions,” SEIU President Mary Kay Henry wrote in an internal memo dated December 14. “These threats require us to make tough decisions that allow us to resist these attacks and to fight forward despite dramatically reduced resources.” After citing the need to “dramatically re-think” how to implement the union’s strategy, Henry’s all-staff letter announces SEIU “must plan for a 30% reduction” in the international union’s budget by January 1, 2018, including a 10 percent cut effective at the start of 2017.
SEIU, which represents nearly 2 million government, health care, and building-services workers and wields an annual budget of $300 million, is the nation’s second-largest union and arguably the most politically significant.
This is probably a smart move by the SEIU. With far fewer friends in positions of power they may be seeing less money flowing into their coffers over the next couple of years. Even worse, with a new, presumably conservative justice on the Supreme Court, upcoming cases could be dealing more blows to the unions’ control over workers. There are more right to work issues heading to the court with additional questions to be answered as to how deeply the unions can dig into the pockets of non-union workers. They’ve already lost one of those battles and the more we see this helpful tend spread, the less economic impact the SEIU will have.
Not too long ago we talked about the case in Texas where the local SEIU chapter there actually had to declare bankruptcy after losing an expensive court case. The strong arm tactics employed by the unions around the country have been increasingly exposed to public review and they’re being held accountable for these actions. If the right to work movement spreads to the point where it affects all government workers, the SEIU is going to be in serious trouble.
What will this do to the “Fight for 15” gang? That’s hard to say. Even Hillary wasn’t in favor of a national minimum wage that high, but Trump seemed to be favor of at least a slight increase himself. Despite the fact that huge jumps in the minimum wage have resulted in businesses fleeing cities which imposed it, there’s still some populist appeal there. But with the GOP controlling all the levers of power in Washington and the Supreme court tilting back in a conservative direction it will likely remain a state by state battle.