Yes, Union Dues Fund Politics

Pennsylvania law grants government unions special privileges available to no other private organizations in the state. Union dues and even Political Action Committee (PAC) contributions are automatically deducted from government employees’ paychecks and sent to union bank accounts using public resources

Additionally, Pennsylvania is a forced-union state, meaning teachers and state employees who don’t want to join the union often still have to forfeit a portion of their paychecks as a “fair share fee” in order to keep their jobs.

In 2012, the state’s main government unions, spent nearly $5 million of member dues on political activities and lobbying. The largest of these, the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), alone spent $3.2 million from dues on lobbying and political action. These expenditures do not require the approval of members and often advocate for policies counter to teachers’ own beliefs.

 So what political activities did government union dues fund?

  • The June/July 2013 edition of the PSEA Voice featured this four-page, politically-charged ad.
  • Earlier this year, Pennsylvanians for Accountability, a non-profit financed by the Service Employees International Union, released this political television ad ripping Gov. Corbett.
  • During the Philadelphia schools funding crisis, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers released this video ad attacking Mayor Nutter.
  • Earlier this year, the United Food and Commercial Workers reportedly spent $1 million to air for this video ad, among others, making false claims about liquor privatization.

While teachers and state workers should be free to support the candidates and causes of their choice, they should not be forced to subsidize political causes with which they disagree—and taxpayer resources should not be used to collect union dues, fees, and PAC money. In this video clip, Donna Gordon, a teacher in the Avon Grove School District, says she opposes the political nature of union activity, yet she, and many other teachers in her district, will soon be forced to pay fees to the PSEA or lose her job.

Should teachers and state employees really be forced to fund political causes for which they disagree?