Fact: Taxpayer Resources Are Being Used for Politics
One of the biggest myths used to oppose paycheck protection is the claim "union dues money can't be used for politics" despite all evidence to the contrary.
Nevertheless, Executive Director of AFSCME Council 13 David Fillman still propagated the myth on a local union radio show saying, "And that's the lie that they're spinning out there, that your union dues are being used for political purposes, absolutely false."
Absolutely false? Not quite. There are two problems with this claim:
First, state government and school districts collect union PAC money—that is, campaign contributions—through the same payroll process as union dues, deducting it from workers' paychecks just like taxes. Despite efforts to "get money out of politics," taxpayers continue to subsidize the collection of campaign contributions, in many cases happening right under the Capitol Dome.
Second, while union dues cannot be given directly to candidates, they can be used for radio and TV ads (on issues or "independent ads" supporting candidates), lobbying expenditures, get out the vote efforts, endorsements of candidates, and even fundraising for their political action committees (PAC). In 2012, the state's main government unions reported that they spent nearly $5 million of member dues on political activities and lobbying.
Below are a litany of examples of government union political action—funded by dues collected using public resources.
Lobbying Against Taxpayers' Interests
- UFCW’s TV Ad "Reckless Scheme" claiming Gov. Corbett wants to raise taxes
- UFCW’s anti-liquor privatization TV ad claiming privatization will kill you
- PSEA-Funded TV Ad (though they initially denied it) pretending to be a conservative group opposing the Senate School Choice plan as a "Voucher Tax"
Attack Ads on Elected Officials
- UFCW Radio Ads attacking Representative Mike Turzai
- UFCW TV Ads attacking Senators Browne and Mensch
- NEA- and SEIU-funded "Pennsylvanians for Accountability" attack ads targeting Governor Corbett
Endorsements and Hit Pieces
- NEA claims Republican governors are "puppets" of conservative think tanks
- NEA mailer featuring Barack Obama
- PSEA compares Romney presidency to Christie and Walker on steroids
- Attack on Governor Corbett’s first two years
- PSEA attacks on Gov Corbett on education
Lobbying Against Needed Reforms and for Higher Taxes
- PSEA tells Governor Corbett/General Assembly to keep the pension promise
- PSEA criticizes Governor Corbett for his "shameful" education budget
- PSEA trying to scare members on pensions
Fundraising for Campaign Contributions with Dues Money
- PSEA urging its members to contribute to PACE and support candidates who support public education
- Donate to PACE or join the "Tom Corbett Fan Club" (pgs 15-16)
- PSEA asking for a donation to PACE
- PSEA decrying cuts to education and asking members to donate to PACE
- PSEA’s attempt to tie Mitt Romney with Tom Corbett
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The Commonwealth Foundation is Pennsylvania's free-market think tank. The Commonwealth Foundation transforms free-market ideas into public policies so all Pennsylvanians can flourish.