Freedom Foundation

Government Unions Want Power Over More Than Workplaces

The broad utopian agenda of the Left has been funded largely by the unions, but taxpayers are increasingly assuming the burden, too.

The government union movement is becoming less about workplace issues like schedules and wages and becoming about using government power to accomplish militant societal change—the kind of change that’s failed everywhere it’s been tried.

America has a tradition of carefully confining the use of power to only a very few legitimate purposes – and only those that are citizen-authorized. We’ve trusted in liberty to create the best and most efficient way to meet needs.

The agenda of the Left, however, finds a home in government unions awash in cash from their monopoly, and the taxpayer-funded Washington State Labor Education and Research Center (LERC) at South Seattle College.

Freedom Foundation has exposed and criticized the state funding of the agenda of LERC over the past five years.

This year, taxpayers are providing $338,000 to this nakedly ideological organization.

After a troubled recent history, LERC is “re-opening” with an event scheduled for Feb. 22-23 at the college campus.

The agenda of the LERC gala includes these government policy concepts:

  • Keynote address
    . . . pressing need for a robust social movement based in the lived realities of working-class people from every background. Leaders and activists from unions, community-based workers’ organizations and labor education have a critical role to play in this movement building moment.
  • Choke Points: Logistics Workers Seizing Power
    Combined, the ports of Seattle and Tacoma and Seatac Air Freight are the fourth-largest port in the United States by sheer volume and value of trade, with over 70,000 workers employed in transport and warehousing of goods. Currently, only 10 percent of those jobs are unionized. This panel will discuss the various choke points located throughout that logistics supply train and how workers can use those choke points to build real working-class power. 
  • Organizing and Policy Partnerships 1: Unions and Community Organizations Raising the Floor
    Unions have led or provided major support for dozens of employment-related policy wins in Washington – raising the minimum wage, paid sick and family leave, domestic worker and wage theft protections, secure scheduling and many more. 
  • Education Justice: Union Power for the Public Good
    Across the United States, educators are leading an uprising demanding not only fair compensation, more rights and respect for the work they do, but funding to provide their students with the resources they need so that every student can thrive. Higher education workers are organizing to end precarious working conditions and for real academic freedom. This session will discuss specific challenges facing educators in Washington state and highlight exciting and innovative union campaigns winning education justice across the country. 
  • Solidarity in Action: Sanctuary Unions
    In this workshop, model contract language and sanctuary resolutions will be presented so that attendees can walk away with meaningful, substantive ways to support their undocumented sisters, brothers and kin.

Minneapolis’ Awood Center is mobilizing East African workers in Amazon’s warehouses. They are calling for Amazon to be accountable to their employees and the communities that workforce comes from, and forcing the retail behemoth to negotiate. Innovative Amazon organizing is also happening here in Washington.

 The UW Alliance (SEIU 925) is pushing for affordable housing and transportation for workers at the cutting edge of Bargaining for the Common Good.

This is the sort of agenda for the use of power that is so narrowly supported that it would wither in the marketplace of ideas. Consequently, it relies on the funding of zealous captains of labor monopolies and politicians channeling public funds.


In The Heart of LERC, Nov. 20, 2017

Head Of Tax-Funded Labor Center Compares Conservatives To Nazis, Aug. 3, 2017

Inslee’s Seeking Big Funding Boost For Controversial Labor Center, Feb. 27, 2017

PDC Finds LERC Broke Disclosure Laws, Dec. 17, 2015

LERC Director Leaves Amid Ethics, Campaign Finance Investigations, May 22, 2015

House Democrats Vote to Continue Funding Controversial Labor Center, April 9, 2015

Public Disclosure Commission Opens Investigation into Labor Education and Research Center, March 17, 2015

Freedom Foundation Files Series of Complaints Against State-Funded Labor Center, Jan. 14, 2015

State-Funded Labor Center Aiding WSLC, Breaking State Law, Jan. 14, 2015

Publicly-Funded Group Sponsoring Anti-Right-to-Work Agenda, Feb. 4, 2014