Government Union Bosses’ Politics Harm Union Members

Government union leaders are quick to argue that their endless lobbying, political spending and strong arm tactics are all designed to “protect the middle class.” But many of the policies they support harm middle-class Pennsylvanians, and even their own members.

Because government union leaders don’t have to ask members for contributions directly—instead having government collect their political money for them—they frequently ignore the wishes of their members, if they talk to them at all. Here are a few examples:

Government Liquor Monopoly: While union leaders oppose choice and convenience for Pennsylvanians, 55 percent of union households support liquor privatization. Nevertheless, UCFW 1776 spent $1 million on dishonest ads to protect the state liquor monopoly.

Higher Health Care Costs and Few Jobs: Government unions such as the NEA and SEIU lobbied for passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which will raise the cost of health care through various mandates and 20 different taxes, taking more than $500 billion from taxpayers between 2012-2022 or $6,363 per family of four.

And Obamacare’s new mandates and taxes have caused almost 500 Pennsylvania school employees to lose their jobs or have their hours reduced.

Yet in 2012 and 2013, the National Education Association gave $250,000 from teachers’ dues to Health Care for America Now!—a group lobbying for Obamacare. The Service Employees International Union spent a whopping $12 million in television ads supporting the law.

Teacher Layoffs and Higher Property Taxes: Due to Pennsylvania’s unsustainable pension system, property taxes are estimated to increase by about $900 per household each year or districts will be forced to lay off one third of Pennsylvania’s teachers, absent any pension reform. This on top of the significant increases in taxes and more than 6,000 teachers being laid off as a result of the pension crisis.

Yet government union leaders refuse to even contemplate reform, arguing there is no immediate crisis and frightening their members by falsely claiming workers will outright lose their pensions. Ironically, private sector union leaders (representing Catholic school teachers), have embraced pension reform, recognizing the benefits for school employees.

Violent and Failing Schools: It’s National School Choice Week and educators across the country are celebrating parent’s ability to choose the best school for their children, but not Pennsylvania teacher unions. Here they are fighting to keep at-risk children in violent and failing schools.

School choice has proven to raise test scores and graduation rates, but unions are fighting to keep at-risk children in dangerous environments. The PSEA spent $575,000 and the American Federation of Teachers spent $400,000 on the “Pennsylvanians Opposed to Vouchers” campaign. The campaign didn’t even disclose it was about union opposition to school choice, but instead the group ran ads pretending to be a Tea Party group claiming school choice would raise taxes.

Moreover, union leaders are trying to undermine reforms to identify and keep the best teachers. Union leaders are suing the Philadelphia school district for hiring back teachers based on merit rather than seniority. And the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers has placed a $40 million grant from the Gates Foundation in jeopardy after revoking their support of a teacher evaluation system.

The fact is that union leaders are lobbying against the interest of the middle class, and even against the interests and wishes of union members.

This is why paycheck protection—requiring union leaders to actually collect dues and political directly money from members and get their opinion on how that money should be spent—would benefit teachers and state workers.