|Public employee unions shun diversity
A Freedom Foundation of Minnesota review of recently filed campaign finance reports finds that public employee unions in Minnesota have already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in the 2010 election cycle to support a diverse group of candidates: suburban Democrats, rural Democrats, Twin Cities Democrats, and Iron Range Democrats.
Since the beginning of 2009, the state’s largest public employee unions – Education Minnesota, AFSCME Minnesota Council 5, and MAPE – have spent a combined $740,000 on contributions to legislative and gubernatorial candidates, political parties and other committees, and independent expenditures.
In the past 18 months, Education Minnesota, the teachers’ union that represents 70,000 educators across the state, has shelled out approximately $384,000 in direct political spending. More than 99% of that money went to support the Democratic candidates, the DFL party, and liberal campaign committees. Less than one percent, just $3,200, was given to Republican candidates and committees.
During that same time period, the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE), which represents over 12,000 state employees, has made $144,450 in itemized contributions to candidates and political parties. Well over 99%, or $144,200, was given to Democratic candidates and DFL party units. Just one contribution, totaling $250, was made to a Republican candidate.
And finally, AFSCME Council 5, the Minnesota branch of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, has given approximately $214,000 to candidates, party committees, and other political committees so far this election cycle. About $20,000 was contributed to candidates for non-partisan local offices. Of the remaining money, 100% of it went to DFL party committees, DFL candidates, or liberal political groups like Progressive Majority and Working America.
It’s important to note that public employees are forced to pay dues to these unions. Even those who opt out of the union are forced to pay so-called “fair share” fees to the union. And it’s hard to believe that rank-and-file union members are as loyal to a single political party as their leadership is, given that exit polls in presidential races consistently find union support for Democrats to be between 50 and 60%.
Public employee unions are free, of course, to support any candidates and political causes they wish. However, perhaps it’s time to call these unions what they are: partisans with a narrow agenda.
When the City of Edina’s city manager retires at the end of this month, he’ll take a $229,455 payout with him for unused sick leave and vacation. Of course, exorbitant public employee payouts, severance or otherwise, are nothing new to local governments in Minnesota.
The New York Times ran a great piece last week on Maywood, California, a small city that has essentially outsourced all municipal services. Excerpt: “At first, people in this poor, long-troubled and heavily Hispanic city southeast of Los Angeles braced for anarchy. Senior citizens were afraid they would be assaulted as they walked down the street. Parents worried the parks would be shut and their children would have nowhere to safely play. Landlords said their tenants had begun suggesting that without city-run services they would no longer feel obliged to pay rent. The apocalypse never arrived. In fact, it seems this city was so bad at being a city that outsourcing — so far, at least — is being viewed as an act of municipal genius.”