‘Fun Union Facts’

By September 19, 2006Labor Unions

That’s the title of the lead editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal. We can’t link here, as a subscription is required, but we can commend it to you.

As the editorial notes, “This month marks the deadline for the last of the nation’s unions to file newly expanded disclosure reports, known as LM-2 forms.” (Here’s a link to the section of the Department of Labor site where you can find and search them.) And they spend considerable space mining the data from those reports. Among the highlights:

— Hard-working union members deserve to know, for example, that of the AFL-CIO’s $82 million in discretionary disbursements from July 2004 to June 2005, only 36% went to representing members in labor negotiations — which is what unions were created to do. A whopping $49 million, or 60% of its budget, instead went to political activities and lobbying, while another $2.4 million went to contributions, gifts and grants.

— The National Education Association was even more skewed toward politics, spending only 33% of its $143 million discretionary budget on improving its members’ lots.

— [B]ased on the filings, the AFL-CIO spent at least $2.7 million alone on T-shirts, flyers, telephone calls, Web site hosting, and other support for 2004 Presidential candidate John Kerry.

— Groups that received AFL-CIO money included Citizens for Tax Justice, an organization devoted to higher tax rates; the Economic Policy Institute, a think-tank that campaigns against Social Security privatization and tax cuts; and the Alliance for Justice, a ferocious opponent of President Bush’s Supreme Court nominees.

“Dues-paying workers of the world might want to ask,” says the Journal, “Why is Mr. Sweeney spending more of their money trying to raise taxes, or fighting for the cultural left, than he is on collective bargaining?”

Good question. They end with a reminder that union members (under the Supreme Court’s Beck decision) are entitled to a refund of that portion of there dues not used for collective bargaining. Let’s hope union members finally get wise to this fact. Let’s hope they can stop their unions from flushing their money down the rat hole — supporting candidates and causes with which the members don’t agree.

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