Last week, the Commonwealth Court ordered the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board to investigate Mary Trometter's allegation that the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) used her union dues to support Tom Wolf's run for governor.
That's illegal in Pennsylvania, according to section 1701 of the Public Employee Relations Act, but it hasn't stopped government unions from pouring dues money into politics.
PSEA spokesman Wythe Keever denied his union engages in politics, stating to the Associated Press:
“The truth is no dues dollars are contributed to political candidates or spent on public communications about candidates. Communicating with members and their families is not the same as contributing to candidates.”
But Keever's “truth” isn't as it seems. Union dues deducted from teachers’ paychecks go to local unions, the PSEA, and the National Education Association (NEA) via the PSEA.
Since 2013, the NEA has sent $36 million from union dues to the NEA Advocacy Fund (the NEA’s SuperPAC). This fund supports presidential candidates, like Hillary Clinton, and other SuperPACs, like Pennsylvanians for Judicial Reform—which ran multiple attack ads influencing last year’s Pa. Supreme Court race. The NEA Advocacy Fund also funded the political ads of America Works USA, an arm of the Democratic Governors Association.
National affiliates aside, the PSEA admits spending dues on politics and lobbying. Here's the fine print from their member magazine:
In 2015, PSEA reported sending $14,000 in union dues to Governor Wolf’s Inaugural Committee and about $85,000 to partisan and left-wing groups such as Keystone Progress and Keystone Research Center.
Based on their own reports to the U.S. Department of Labor, the PSEA and many other government unions use union dues for political activities:
Union members should know their hard-earned paychecks are being spent on political activities—without their permission. Voluntary PAC contributions are one thing. Forcing teachers to fund political causes they don’t support is another. It’s wrong, and it’s illegal. It’s time PSEA officials come clean about their abuse of teachers and taxpayers.