Since last week’s ‘Janus’ ruling that unions could not require public sector employees to pay union fees, unions have decried the Supreme Court decision, calling it attack on all workers. The reality is, however, the decision my impact unions’ political expenditures.

AFSCME protesters outside Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas. Source: AFSCME

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that requiring government workers to pay unions as a condition of employment is a violation of their First Amendment rights since public-sector unions are inherently political.

  • Read the Supreme Court’s Janus ruling here.

In a post-Janus article, the Washington Free Beacon posited that the “largest public-sector unions in the country may lose up to 400,000 fee payers” which could, as a result, hit Democrats hard.

However, it is one section in the Free Beacon story that may surprise some. That is the fact that a mere four (of many) unions in the public sector spent over $1 billion on politics—the vast majority going to Democrats—since 2012.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), American Federation of State, County, & Municipal Employees (AFSCME), National Education Association (NEA), and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) represent millions of government employees at the state and local level, as well as about 400,000 agency fee payers, though not all of them are directly affected by the decision, according to 2017 federal labor filings.

The four unions combined to spend more than $1 billion on political activities since 2012, according to federal labor filings. Those records represent a conservative estimate on public-sector union spending, since they do not count the spending rates of local unions or state chapters on such activities. Nearly all of the unions’ federal political contributions went to Democrats or advanced liberal causes, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Political activities played an essential role in the lawsuit filed by a group of Illinois government employees who launched the Janus case. They argued before the Court that government unions are inherently political since they affect public policy and budgeting of taxpayer dollars. Justice Samuel Alito agreed, saying that those workers should not be forced to endorse political speech with which they disagree. [Emphasis added.]

Read the whole thing here.


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