This post was written by Jonathan Abel, an intern with our friends at the Freedom Foundation.
People of faith should be very concerned with the social agenda of major government unions. These unions collect hundreds of millions of dollars in dues each year from their members, allegedly for the purpose of workplace representation. Unfortunately, most members have no clue where their money is really being spent and are being misled. In Washington State and across the nation, government unions use their members’ dues to support a far-left social agenda that seeks to undermine traditional marriage and promote abortion.
The Freedom Foundation recently analyzed the past three years of federal financial reports for just five of the major unions that represent public employees in Washington. We analyzed both the financial activity of the local, in-state unions as well as the contributions of the various national union headquarters that Washington workers also pay dues to support.
All told, public employees represented by these five major unions financially supported $10.7 million dollars in union contributions to organizations opposed to traditional marriage and supportive of abortion between 2012 and 2014.
Click image to enlarge.
Service Employees International Union (SEIU) – $4,064,000
International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) – $175,000
National Education Association (NEA) – $2,522,000
American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) – $2,481,000
American Federation of Teachers (AFT) – $540,000
Teamsters (IBT) – $918,000
These very conservative numbers only include union contributions made directly to pro-choice/anti-traditional marriage groups. Many more millions have been given to political candidates who fight to advance these same agendas. Also, the totals do not include contributions made by affiliated unions in other states. Lastly, they do not include all public-sector unions in Washington, some of which do not have to file federal reports, like the massive Washington Education Association.
Nevertheless, the amount is staggering, as is the number of progressive groups unions support with members’ dues. Just over the course of the past few years, these unions financially supported groups like Pride at Work, the Gay and Lesbian Leadership Institute and the American Unity Fund. In 2012, the unions gave $135,000 to Washington United for Marriage, the successful initiative campaign to legalize same-sex marriage.
In October 2014, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) moved its 2015 Women’s conference out of Indianapolis because of its opposition to Indiana’s new religious freedom restoration act intended to protect the rights of religious business owners In a statement, AFSMCE President Lee Saunders claimed, “This un-American law allowing businesses to refuse service to gay and lesbian customers sets Indiana and our nation back decades in the struggle for civil rights. It is an embarrassment and cannot be tolerated.”
Union executives are equally defensive of their pro-abortion liberal allies. When Republicans in Congress threatened to defund Planned Parenthood in 2011, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) President Mary Kay Henry rushed to defend the nation’s largest abortion provider:
“We have seen attacks on working families in state after state, but now the extremist wing of the Republican Party has chosen a new target – women. Planned Parenthood is an essential part of our nation’s healthcare system, yet a handful of ideologically driven members of Congress want to prevent millions of American women from receiving life-saving healthcare … simply put, Planned Parenthood saves lives.”
Recent revelations indicate that Planned Parenthood not only provides abortion services, but is also involved in the sale of body parts harvested from aborted infants.
But SEIU doesn’t just pay lip service to Planned Parenthood. From 2012 to 2014, members of these five unions in Washington helped subsidize $115,000 in contributions to Planned Parenthood alone, not counting money sent to other pro-choice organizations. During this time, SEIU carried the weight of these contributions, giving $105,000. Furthermore, in 2012, it provided over $1 million in telemarketing services for Planned Parenthood, according to a 2012 Planned Parenthood 990. The ties between SEIU and Planned Parenthood extend beyond the political, financial and ideological, and extend even to the matrimonial. SEIU’s international executive vice president, Kirk Adams, is married to Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Many people of faith would never be comfortable knowing their union dues went to directly support these activities. Unions do not typically boast about such contributions, knowing that many of their members would not fully support such an agenda. Even the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) on its website admitted that, “…most members don’t feel that it is appropriate for their unions to take positions on controversial social and cultural issues (such as abortion and gun control).”
Washington union members who believe in traditional marriage and support the sanctity of life should be aware that their dues are being used to fund a far-left social agenda.