Some things have changed since those days, but a lot of union money funds candidates which the rank and file may not support. That can lead to trouble for the union, particularly if those dues are used to support a candidate in a federal election. If members of the rank and file object to their dues going to support a candidate they do not support, it is illegal for the union to do so, at least for that portion of the dues paid by the objecting members. But that hasn't stopped some of them from doing so anyways.
The SEIU (Service Employees International Union) may find itself the subject of an investigation by the Department of Labor and Department of Justice for doing just that.
The mighty Service Employees International Union (SEIU) plans to spend some $150 million in this year's election, most of it to get Barack Obama and other Democrats elected. Where'd they get that much money?
That's a question the Departments of Labor and Justice are being asked to investigate by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. Specifically, the labor watchdog group wants Justice to query a new SEIU policy that appears to coerce local workers into funding the parent union's national political priorities.
The union adopted a new amendment to its constitution at last month's SEIU convention, requiring that every local contribute an amount equal to $6 per member per year to the union's national political action committee. This is in addition to regular union dues. Unions that fail to meet the requirement must contribute an amount in "local union funds" equal to the "deficiency," plus a 50% penalty. According to an SEIU union representative, this has always been policy, but has now simply been formalized.
No other major institution could get away with its bosses demanding that every single one of its workers step in line behind its political preferences. This is the sort of imposed political obeisance that infuriates so many workers and turns them away from unions.
It's not much different than outright robbery or strong arm “protection” rackets of the past, where money is involuntary taken from union members and given to campaigns that are the antithesis of the political beliefs of the members. Stuff like that gets people sent to prison, even in this day and age.
Just because the SEIU has always had that as a “policy”, doesn't mean it's legal, ethical, or moral. It's time for the union to realize they have to follow the laws, just like everyone else. Such strong arm tactics tend to drive people away from the unions. It's one of the reasons I left the employment of a company where I once worked. I got tired of the union BS, the mandatory dues, and the union's campaign contributions to politicians whose ideology was just this side of Lenin...or Al Capone.