How Public Unions Spend Your Money


Millions of dollars in taxpayer money are funneled into public employee unions.  How is your hard-earned money spent by union bosses?

They give a lot of it to the Democrat Party, of course.  As Michael Barone points out in a column today, unions spent $400 million to get Barack Obama elected, and $90 million went to Democrats in 2010.  AFSCME, the civil service union, was the largest single spender in the last election cycle.  A July 2010 piece in the San Jose Mercury-News estimated that roughly 30 percent of teachers union dues go to political contributions.

The Democrat Party is directly funded by taxpayers through the conduit of public unions.  Considering how badly they’re doing in spite of that unique advantage, their political fortunes would not survive the loss of that automated cash flow.  That’s why Democrat legislators ask “how far?” when union bosses tell them to run away from their responsibilities.

Political parties aren’t the only kind of party union bosses blow your money on.  In New York, where 5,000 teachers face layoffs due to budget shortfalls, the United Federation of Teachers poured a cool $1.4 million dollars into their 50th anniversary gala.  According to the New York Daily News, expenses included five-star accommodations at the Hilton, $514,000 to pay 16 different caterers, and $6,100 for gift baskets. 

UFT brass also enjoyed $179,000 worth of luxurious “training retreats” at a Connecticut golf resort, and guzzled $114,870 worth of coffee at their five offices during the past year.  Union boss Michael Mulgrew defended these expenditures by saying his clients are “heroes dedicated to making a difference in the lives of our children,” who “never get the respect they deserve.”  When Mulgrew came into office, the UFT threw him a $6,400 party at a Brazilian steakhouse.  He’s worth every penny of his $284,078 annual salary, to say nothing of the six-figure taxpayer-funded pension he’ll receive for the rest of his life after he retires!  But he apparently wasn’t as special as his predecessor, who got an $8,339 farewell party.

Union shills are always howling that more money is needed for education.  More money for “education” would, in practice, equal even more lavishly padded salaries for union bosses, and perhaps a seventeenth caterer at their next gala event.

Thanks to those immense union pension funds, Wall Street gets even more of your tax money than Democrats or gourmet chefs do.  A January 2011 editorial from Union Watch puts the amount at $250 billion per year.  At least when taxpayer funds surging through unsustainable union benefit plans don’t produce the promised returns, Wall Street can count on big taxpayer bailouts!

Republicans who are still looking for ways to cut the federal budget should seriously consider repealing the laws that allow public employees to unionize.  Billions of dollars would be saved.  Of course, there would be angry high-rolling financiers and luxury resort owners to contend with.  Meanwhile, we should only entertain strangled cries to pour more money into our public education system when we can be reasonably confident it would actually be used to hire more teachers, with reasonable compensation… and some of them would be replacing bad teachers who don’t have iron-clad job security any more.