July 16, 2018

Supreme Court Labor Decision Wasn’t Just a Loss for Unions

Mary Kay Henry, the president of the Service Employees International Union, said that her union had cut its budget by about 30 percent in anticipation of the decision, and that the service employees had been talking with leaders of liberal groups for two years about how to offset the loss. She said the union, with about two million members, would provide a range of nonmonetary support, from in-kind staff assistance to help with fund-raising.

Brad Woodhouse, a former communications director for the Democratic National Committee, until recently ran a group called Americans United for Change, whose budget was heavily dependent on contributions from public-sector unions when it campaigned for health care reform and the Obama stimulus plan a decade ago. Mr. Woodhouse said unions gave less in 2015 and 2016, when the Supreme Court considered a predecessor to the Janus case. (The court deadlocked in that case after Justice Antonin Scalia died.) Partly as a result, the group shut down after the 2016 election.

The Economic Policy Institute, a Washington-based think tank producing research on worker rights, wages and employment, has relied on the four biggest public-sector unions for about 10 to 15 percent of its roughly $6 million in annual revenue in recent years.

“We aren’t seeing it as an existential threat,” said Thea Lee, the institute’s president, “but we have been trying to be conservative in what projects we pursue.”

A group called Mi Familia Vota, which advocates on behalf of Latino voters and immigrants, had received about $1 million a year directly from the Service Employees International Union since 2012 — a significant portion of its annual revenue, which has ranged from about $1.5 million to $5 million during that time.

Last year, the union gave just $25,000.

“We’ve been adjusting,” said Ben Monterroso, director of Mi Familia Vota, which focuses on issues including education, health care, workers’ rights and voting rights. “Some of the programs we’ve needed to scale back. Demonstrations, activities, actions, we’ve scaled back.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/01/business/economy/unions-funding-political.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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