Suppose that a business owner gave a politician nearly $1 million in campaign contributions and then received a $134.9 million contract. What kind of reaction would expect from the media? Most people would expect wall to wall news coverage and calls for an investigation. If the dollar amounts stayed the same, but instead of a business, the contract went to a public sector/government union why should the public be any less outraged?
Late last week, Service Employees International Union Local 668 (SEIU) signed off on a lucrative three-year contract that they negotiated with Governor Tom Wolf last year. Over three years, the contract will cost taxpayers $134.9 million. When you consider additional pension payments and resulting liabilities from the deal, the price goes up even further over the long term.
The SEIU’s PAC was the largest union contributor to the Governor’s 2014 election campaign. Direct spending and contributions by the PAC totaled nearly $1 million. If you add in the "volunteer" work and get out the vote efforts by the union, the value of the SEIU’s contributions are even greater. SEIU members will see a $5,000 salary increase per year under the new contract. Because the union dues are a based on a percentage of the member’s salary, the SEIU will financially benefit from the new deal as well. If this contract comes as news to you, you’re probably not alone. Despite the union’s generosity in terms of time and financial contributions to Governor Wolf, the labor agreement generated very little press.
In fact, the SEIU contract is only the latest in a long line of campaign contributors who have negotiated with the Governor. Every major government union in Pennsylvania supported the Governor, and will likely support his reelection. Under the current system, unions are on both sides of the negotiating table. Franklin D. Roosevelt opposed government employee unions for this very reason.
The media rightly scrutinizes government contracts with most private vendors who are political donors. Why don’t they pay the same attention to government unions who happened to be the biggest political spenders in the state?