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Is a Big Labor Implosion Over Political Contributions Threatening the SEIU’s Power?

Is a Big Labor Implosion Over Political Contributions Threatening the SEIU’s Power?

Mismanagement of union resources?

In California, millions of dollars are collected by the union each year (called dues). Some of these monies make their way into politicians' coffers or are used for purely political purposes. But, what happens if a union member opposes the candidates or the political purposes the monies -- dues taken from their hard-earned pay -- are being used to support?

That question is at the root cause of some potentially explosive issues emerging among the state's union members. For the past few months, news outlets have reported on these internal issues. The situation has worsened as the anti-SEIU group, the California Professional Public Employees Association (CPPEA) has been purportedly gaining ground.

The CPPEA is currently working to gain signatures that would end SEIU memberships. By becoming "non-germane objectors" (protected by the SEIU, but not forced to pay dues toward unwanted political activity) members would be able to keep more money in their pockets.

According to CBS Sacramento, 28,000 members took advantage of this previously little-known state clause last year. Of course, the SEUI isn't happy. A local chapter sent the following message to CBS:

“We see potential for great abuse and danger for individuals who sign these documents and have taken the steps to alert our members of the potential abuse. CPPEA has no standing with the state and is recruiting state employees based on a pure falsehood. People should view representation claims by CPPEA with the same skepticism as the Nigerian money schemes we receive in our email box each month.”

While the SEIU claims that this group is as dangerous as a troop of foreigners attempting to scam Americans' money, the fact that 28,000 have already flocked to it (surely more, considering that this year isn't included in that number) is astounding. On its site, the CPPEA claims that it was founded by "reform-minded members of the SEIU." These individuals were concerned with the following:

  • Mismanagement of union resources
  • Lack of Transparency and Accountability
  • Inadequate and ineffective Representation of it’s members

Back in June, the SEIU Local 1000 also instilled identity theft fears in members, writing the following on its web site:

SEIU Members are being asked to provide confidential information, such as the last four digits of a Social Security number, to a group calling itself CPPEA. This group claims the confidential information will eventually be turned over to SEIU. Please be aware that CPPEA is not, in any way, associated with SEIU Local 1000, and there are no plans to obtain such information from this group.

Moreover, filling out the form and turning it over to a third-party may place you at risk of identity theft.

Really, what the SEIU is probably most frustrated about is the damage that CPPEA will do to its political power. With the CPPEA informing SEIU members of their rights to take advantage of state law and reduce their dues, the union will likely lose its ability to influence politicians, elections and the like -- or it will be, at the least, weakened.

SEIU, however, doesn't seem to be alone in using this tactic. On Thursday, The Blaze covered accusations that Californians Against Identity Theft is actually a union-front organization that was created to scare voters into not supporting an anti-union ballot initiative.

Similarly, though, CPPEA isn't alone in addressing these issues. In response to a related, proposed measure that may make its way onto the state's 2012 ballot, the SEIU is launching a major counter campaign. Torey Van Oot of the Sacramento Bee writes:

The California Service Employees International Union is urging members to call a hotline to deploy "Think Before You Ink" teams to talk voters out of signing a measure that would restrict their ability to automatically deduct dues from members' paychecks for political purposes.

The SEIU in California has launched an online portal through which supporters can sign a petition to "protect" working families. The labor union doesn't seem interested in denying its urge to be present and active in the political arena:

Working people's ability to protect our schools, communities, healthcare, and environment will be greatly reduced by silencing our unions.

Meanwhile, corporations would be allowed to continue to use their record profits to spend as much as they want to elect politicians. Corporations already outspend unions 15-1; now they want complete control of the political system.

Regardless of whether the public has an opportunity to vote on political contributions coming out of member pay, there are thousands of people who have expressed dissatisfaction with the SEIU's financial workings. Even if no vote is held, it is likely that members will continue to become union-despised "non-germane objectors."

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