To the editor:
I do not blame the retired teacher who penned Commonwealth Foundation Has it Wrong on PSEA Dues Spending, May 1, 2014, for believing government unions do not spend dues on political advocacy. Union leaders have used carefully crafted phrasing to bring members to that assumption. But federal law requires government unions to publicly file the amount of dues spent on politics in addition to notifying members of how much of their dues it plans to spend on political advocacy.
A notice went out to members last year informing them that PSEA leadership plans to spend 12 percent of dues, or about $7 million, on politics this year. According to required records PSEA filed with the commonwealth, it spent more than $5.5 million of dues on politics in 2013. This is in addition to the millions of dollars it sends directly to candidates, which comes from the union PAC contributions.
Dues can and are used on politics. The Commonwealth Foundation has a list of many examples of political advocacy on their website, from lobbying, get out the vote messaging, political mailers to outright campaigning for the election of certain candidates. All of these examples were paid for with union dues.
It is simple. Dues pay for political advocacy and PAC money goes to candidates. So when government union leaders tell members that their dues do not go to a candidate’s campaigns, it is what they are not saying that members should note.