Dear Tennessee Star,
It really is simple the more members who pay union dues affords greater political clout for that union and feed the union bureaucracy. Most people still have a lot to learn about unions, especially in education. Many have likened unions to being an ATM to left-wing politicians and causes.
Too many people vaguely equate the union with that classroom teacher whom they know and respect, not with the hard-as-nails political entity that dictates bad school policy. It makes little sense for teachers to contribute their hard-earned dollars to political and ideological causes they oppose.
For example, a teacher union’s goal, of course, is political power, not education. This means of course they funnel union money to politicians who support their agenda. So how do the government unions, whose leaders run to the left of the average worker, get away with spending dues dollars on candidates and causes that so many of its members revile? The answer very simply is because its members let them.
In fact, in all elections since 1989, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has given $76,446,797 to Democrats and liberals and just $363,000 to Republicans and conservatives. In other words, less than one half of one percent of the union’s political spending goes to the right. (And in those cases it’s usually supporting the more left-leaning of two Republicans running against each other.)
The National Education Association isn’t a whole lot better; about 3 percent of its political largess goes rightward. But according to Mike Antonucci, an NEA internal survey in 2005 (consistent with previous results), showed that its members “are slightly more conservative (50%) than liberal (43%) in political philosophy.” No reason to think AFT is any different. And Mary Kay Henry, president of the SEIU, which serves both public and private employees, acknowledged in January that “64 percent of our public members identify as conservative….” (Like the AFT, about one-half of one percent of SEIU political donations go to Republicans/conservatives.)
Those lawmakers with sufficient skill in accounting, algebra, geometry, trigonometry and calculus are unable to extract the proper microscopic answer from the voluminous and complex accounting records of the local, state, national, and international unions involved. By maintaining the status quo, consider yourself a willing ATM to the left.