Commentary Magazine


A Less Perfect Union

As Jennifer has been pointing out, Rod Blogojevich was hoping the SEIU would play  middleman in a deal to sell Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat — one of Blagojevich’s schemes was to appoint Obama’s choice to the Senate in exchange for Obama using his influence to get Blagojevich a very high-paying job as director of  the union’s group “Change to Win,” in exchange for some future consideration. In other words, Obama gets his choice as Senator, Blagojevich gets a cushy, rewarding job, and the SEIU now has Obama’s marker.

This plot apparently fell through when Obama (or his intermediaries) refused to play ball.

This sort of corruption is nothing new to the SEIU, I’m afraid. Over the past few years, they have managed to do something amazing — they have passed the Teamsters as “the most corrupt union in America.”

This became most apparent during the last election cycle. They, like most everybody these days, have their own Political Action Committee. And wow, is it a potent one. Not only was it the best-financed PAC from all the 527 groups last cycle, raising just under $32 million, but that number dwarfs the rest — it is more than groups 2-7 combined.

How did they get so much money? Quite simple. They demanded it.

Recently, they amended their Constitution to demand that each local chapter contribute at least $6.00 per member to the group’s PAC. If a group failed, it would be fined for the difference plus a 150% penalty out of its general funds.

Clever idea, but with one teeny little flaw: it’s illegal. Under fedeal law, PAC contributions are to be entirely voluntary. But the same people who howl when big corporations persuade their employees to contribute to their PACs are strangely silent at this illegal shakedown.

It isn’t just elections and Senate seats that the union is involved in buying and selling, either. They have also been caught funneling millions of dollars to businessesand organizations that, by an astonishing coincidence, are at least partly owned by union officials.

But back to the Blagojevich mess — as noted, the SEIU would come out of the deal with an unspecified future favor from Obama. One possible use for that might have been his support for the Orwellian-named “Employee Free Choice Act.”

Under that proposed bill, employees who are considering joining a union would be “free” to skip over the currently-mandated secret ballot procedure and simply declare their support by signing a pledge card. Signed, most probably, in the presence of a union organizer or three or a dozen — at least one of which would not be an intimadating thug, I’m sure.

If ever an organization was ripe for a RICO investigation, then it would have to be the SEIU. But that is highly unlikely under an Obama Justice Department. The best we can do is to keep exposing their deeds and hope that the publicity will curb their greatest excesses.