DoL Urged to Investigate Union Extortion of its Own Members

The Wall Street Journal today has an interesting little story highlighting a newly adopted change to the constitution of the powerful Service Employees International Union. At issue is whether it is legal for the union to require the locals to “donate” the equivalent of $6 per member to the SEIU political action committee. This new requirement has netted $150 million dollars that the SEIU is going to spend to help Democrats get into office in 2008.

The union adopted a new amendment to its constitution at last month’s SEIU convention, requiring that every local contribute an amount equal to $6 per member per year to the union’s national political action committee. This is in addition to regular union dues. Unions that fail to meet the requirement must contribute an amount in “local union funds” equal to the “deficiency,” plus a 50% penalty. According to an SEIU union representative, this has always been policy, but has now simply been formalized.

The problem is that this requirement placed upon the locals may violate Federal laws stating that contributions to a union PAC has to be voluntary, not mandatory.

SEIU prez Andy Stern is no stranger to campaign fraud, though. In 2004, Stern was instrumental in creating a political action committee called America Coming Together (ACT) that ran afoul of the law.

The Federal Election Commission later imposed a $775,000 penalty on ACT for violating campaign finance laws, the largest ever against a 527. Big as it was, the fine equaled less than one cent on the dollar for the $100 million that ACT improperly used to influence a national election. Mr. Stern was only a founder of ACT. But the political lesson is that the benefit of breaking the rules and potentially winning an election far outweighs a minuscule financial penalty well after the outcome is decided.

And now we have another possible violation in forced “voluntary” donations that the union is extorting from its own members.

Unions mean coercion. The two go hand-in-hand.

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