Union Leaders Flex Political Muscle

Member Group : Commonwealth Foundation

Commonwealth Foundation
Contact: John Bouder, 570-490-1042, [email protected]

Union Leaders Flex Political Muscle, Block Good Government Reform
82 Lobbyists Protect Unethical Political Perk for Government Unions

December 12, 2017, HARRISBURG, Pa.–Today, the leaders of Pennsylvania’s government unions used their taxpayer-aided political muscle to block paycheck protection bill SB 166–a good government reform which would end the unethical practice of using taxpayer resources to collect and distribute political campaign contributions. The House voted down the bill 90-102.
Currently, state government acts as part of government union leaders’ political fundraising team by deducting campaign contributions from public workers’ paychecks and distributing the money to union political action committees (PACs). Since 2007, taxpayers have helped the top 14 government unions funnel more than $35 million to political candidates.

“Government shouldn’t be collecting political campaign money for anyone,” commented Nathan Benefield, vice president and COO of the Commonwealth Foundation. “It’s unfortunate that one group of powerful special interests–government union leaders–will continue forcing taxpayers to subsidize their political agenda. We urge House lawmakers to stand up for taxpayers and restore integrity to Pennsylvania’s unfair political system in future votes.”

In additional to campaign contributions, government also collects public-sector union members’ dues, a portion of which is spent on political activity and lobbying. Counting this political spending, government union leaders have spent more than $100 million on politics in the last decade. This political muscle was on display today, as government unions employed 82 lobbyists to defend their special privilege.

No other group enjoys this political perk. In fact, as the chart below shows, elected officials have been jailed for similarly misusing public resources for political gain.

“It’s a crime for lawmakers to use official phones to make campaign calls or use state-owned computers to send fundraising emails,” continued Benefield. “Yet government union leaders are given a pass to raise tens of millions of dollars in campaign donations using public resources. It’s time to stop turning a blind eye to this unethical practice and ensure everyone is playing by the same rules. Public resources and politics should never mix.”

Sixty-seven percent of Pennsylvania voters favor paycheck protection.

Moreover, 80 percent of union households agree that taxpayer resources should not be used to collect campaign contributions. Click here for Commonwealth Foundation’s policy memo “Ending Taxpayer-Funded Collection of Campaign Contributions.”

Commonwealth Foundation experts are available for comment. Please contact John Bouder at 570-490-1042 or [email protected] to schedule an interview.

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