Union Executives Refuse to Answer Lawmakers’ Questions

For Immediate Release
Commonwealth Foundation
Contact: 717-6971-1901

 Union Executives Refuse to Answer Lawmakers’ Questions

Provides Deceptive Testimony

June 6, 2014, Philadelphia, Pa – While public school teachers, taxpayer advocates and business leaders  supporting paycheck protection answered pointed questions yesterday from lawmakers, government union executives refused to attend the House Government Committee hearing.  Instead, six of them signed written testimony only.  In it, they make several deceptive arguments, which explains their hesitation to face tough questioning.

Here are five of their most misleading claims in their written testimony, the reality and the questions opponents should have to answer.

1) Union leadership Claim:  “Contributions to political action committees (PACs) are entirely separate from membership dues.”

Reality: PAC contributions are negotiated into contracts just like dues, collected using public payroll systems, and checks or electronic transfers sent directly to union bank accounts.

Question they want to avoid: Should public resources be used to collect union PAC funds?

2) Union leadership Claim:  “At no time can union member's dues be given directly to a candidate for elected office.”


Question they want to avoid: Should public resources be used to collect SuperPAC funds?

3) Union leadership Claim: “automated deductions are bargained between the employer and the union” and if HB 1507 passed “all other non-profit and for-profit organizations would still be allowed to use the very same practice.”


  • No other private organization collectively bargains with the government to collect political dollars. No other organization has government collect its PAC money, as union contracts do. No other organizations has government collect a charge on top of the cost of services (i.e., the “fair share fee”) that can be used for politics. No other organization can go on strike and shut down the government.
  • Elected officials negotiate with local unions to collect dues and Political Action Committee (PAC) contributions via public payroll systems. This creates the potential for corruption, or at least the appearance of corruption, as union executives turn around and make campaign contributions to the very officials they negotiated with. Local government officials are even asking for paycheck protection to avoid this conflict of interest.

Question they want to avoid: Should union executives be able to negotiate the collection of political money with the politicians the support with that political money?

4) Union Claim: “Expenditures related to lobbying, political activities, and ideological activities are not chargeable to fee payers.”


Question they want to avoid: Why are non-members forced to support political ads and groups?

5) Union Leadership Claim:  “Claims that these electronic deductions cost taxpayers money is an assumption that is made without merit or supporting evidence.”


  • There are real costs to taxpayer collection of dues and campaign contributions. It takes staff time from public employees to enter information into computer systems. Wire transfers involve a cost. Transfers require computer systems and accounting software purchased with taxpayer dollars.
  • For example, officials in Blair County report that one payroll employee devotes a full day's work every two weeks to calculating deductions for union dues.
  • Not one cent of taxpayer dollars, nor any public computers or software, should be used for political fundraising.

Question they want to avoid: How much taxpayer money can be used to support politics before it’s “too much?”

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The Commonwealth Foundation, founded in 1988, crafts free-market policies, convinces Pennsylvanians of their benefits, and counters attacks on liberty.