The joke was on the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) this week. On Tuesday, a fake press release claimed SEIU had voted to revoke their endorsement of President Obama. The Washington Post reported the fake release quoted SEIU President Mary Kay Henry as saying, “Our members gave $60.7 million dollars to the Obama campaign in 2008 and fought hard for his election because we were promised change. We’re still waiting.”
The Post also reported, “The email was sent by Mark McCullough, spokesman for the SEIU. But if you looked closely at his email address, it was missing a ‘c,’ and emails to that address bounced back.” While the release was meant as a prank, the payoff that unions expect from their political backing to the Democrats and Obama is no laughing matter.
Also on Tuesday, the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) voted to endorse the president’s reelection bid. AFSCME vowed to spend $100 million to help his campaign. That was no joke, and neither are the massive budget deficits which states and localities across the country face due to the unsustainable contracts and pension obligations negotiated by AFCME’s affiliates.
Why the extravagant spending using the forced dues of workers? In his book Democracy Denied, Phil Kerpen details how the Obama Administration gives favors to Big Labor while making an end run around congress.
The unions expected that enormous investment to pay dividends, and Obama did not intend to disappoint them. While the public has mostly focused on the high-profile fights raging in Congress, the key implementer of the union agenda is a relatively obscure federal agency called the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Now stacked with SEIU lawyers who are Obama’s ideological fellow travelers, the board is poised to grant union bosses vast new powers without so much as a vote in Congress.
Kerpen writes how much the President owes to the unions and SEIU.
Nobody did more to make Barack Obama the president of the United States than labor unions, most significantly the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Now they want their payback, and it doesn’t matter to them—or their handpicked president—that Congress and the American people have rejected their agenda.
SEIU is largely responsible for Obama’s remarkable primary upset over Hillary Clinton, spending more than $9 million supporting Obama through the critical three month stretch that determined the nomination. In Obama’s own words:
“ I’ve spent my entire adult life working with SEIU. I’m not a newcomer to this. I didn’t suddenly discover SEIU on the campaign trail.”
And that primary support was just the beginning, as then- SEIU President Andy Stern said:
“We spent a fortune to elect Barack Obama—$60.7 million to be exact— and we’re proud of it.”
How proud? SEIU even gave its blessing—and funding—to a 2009 documentary film highlighting the pivotal role the union played in getting Obama into the White House.
He goes on to explain how SEIU and their affiliates such as ACORN functioned as “shock troops” for the Obama campaign.
In all, SEIU and the AFL-CIO claimed they spent over $300 million to elect the president and put Big Labor-friendly Democrats in Congress. Don Loos of the National Right to Work Committee estimated that all told, unions may have spent as much as $2.2 billion on political activities between 2007 and 2010.
As the 2012 campaign heats up and unions become increasingly desperate to hold on to their last concentrations of power – namely federal executive agencies such as the National Labor Relations Board and laws that restrict worker choice in the states – they will spend big and do whatever they can to get their friends elected and reelected.