Now that we are in the last four weeks of the general election campaign, contribution trends are very apparent. Overwhelming evidence shows one fact very clearly – the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is betting very heavily on Democrats in the state legislature.
Heavy political giving is nothing new for SEIU, but according to public radio the branch of the union that literally depends on government payments for its very existence (home health care Local 775) “has invested more than $1 million in trying to help Democrats win control of the Washington legislature this year. That makes SEIU the single largest donor on the Democratic side.”
And what does the union want for the million dollars which it extracts from its relatively low-income “members”? According to the political strategist contending with that money it’s pretty clear: “What they’re really looking to do is buy a caucus and get an income tax,” (consultant Kevin) Carns said. “They’re looking for outcomes.”
Those outcomes are demanded by one key figure. As public radio pointed out in its story, “David Rolf is the president of SEIU 775. If there’s a messiah in Washington state’s labor movement these days it’s him.”
It is Rolf who has pushed the job-crushing $15 minimum wage efforts in our state – and helped exempt unions (and their employers) from having to follow that law in SeaTac and Seattle. That effort is spilling over into the union’s efforts now, as “this summer the union negotiated a new contract with the state that would give homecare workers a $15 an hour base wage by 2019. That’s where the 2016 elections start to factor in. Lawmakers still need to ratify and fund that contract.”
And as Rolf told public radio, “the main focus this year is on electing what he calls ‘pro-worker’ majorities in the state legislature” – which to Rolf and other labor bosses means Democrat legislators who are financially beholden to the unions, and will provide the votes to send public dollars to union members, which in turn grows the treasuries of the unions which fund the liberals who vote for their policies.
It’s a vicious and self-serving financial circle – using taxpayer money.
The Seattle Times also worked on the SEIU story, and described exactly how SEIU 775 was using its money to build support. “As it hands out endorsements and campaign donations, SEIU has been asking legislative candidates to sign a pledge in support” of the contract which will raise its members’ base pay by more than 30% in three years – from $11.50 to $15 per hour.
And the money is flowing freely, according to the Times: “nearly $600,000 to help House Democrats retain or expand their slim majority — about a quarter of the cash donated to the caucus’ soft-money account, the Truman Fund. Another $300,000 has gone to the Senate Democrats’ Kennedy Fund, backing efforts to flip that chamber from Republican control. And the union has spent more than $160,000 on the campaigns of individual legislative candidates.”
And it’s not just SEIU 775 that is betting on House Speaker Frank Chopp and his fellow legislative Democrats to help raise taxes next year. Again, from the Times: “in addition to SEIU 775, contributions have flowed from the union’s state council and locals representing nurses, university employees and others. When it comes to donations to the House Democrats’ Truman Fund, only the state teachers union — which has given $420,000 — has come close to matching SEIU.”
For his part, “Chopp said he supports SEIU 775’s contract and signed the union’s $15 pledge.”
The path is clear on how SEIU wants their contract to be funded. “In 2010, SEIU and Seattle venture capitalist Nick Hanauer bankrolled Initiative 1098, which would have created a state income tax.”
Further, as Times reminds us, “the state Democratic Party platform does call for a progressive state income tax, pointing out that Washington’s reliance on regressive sales taxes penalizes the state’s poorest residents. ‘They can run and hide from it all they want … it’s part of their platform,’ Carns said.”
And voters will find out next month if these heavy union bets on Democrats will take a bite out of their wallets in the next legislature.