OSU Employees Learn the Truth About How SEIU Spends Their Dues

OSU Employees Learn the Truth About How SEIU Spends Their Dues

OSU Employees Learn the Truth About How SEIU Spends Their Dues

Whether it’s dictating to government workers what they “need to know” or recruiting them to phone bank for their preferred candidates, union bosses like those at SEIU 503 are quite fond of telling other people how to vote.

So fond, in fact, that when the Freedom Foundation sent a simple message to public employees this year reminding them of what should be obvious — that voting is a personal choice — some SEIU leaders got downright defensive.

In a rebuttal sent to classified employees at Oregon State University, the union’s sublocal leadership apparently thought they’d give investigative journalism “the old college try” by attacking the Freedom Foundation with three brilliantly-cited “objective” sources — including a union publication and another that receives hundreds of thousands of dollars from government unions[1] — and put questions about SEIU’s political spending to rest once and for all.

To that end, the union’s email included the following claim:

“Virtually all of our union’s political work is not funded by union dues, but by a separate, voluntary fund called CAPE. (emphasis in original)

The message deserved some correction, however, which is why the Freedom Foundation promptly sent another email to the OSU employees informing them of just how much of their money is “virtually” taken by SEIU 503 leaders and used for political purposes.

For starters, the employees learned that federal reports show SEIU 503 spent more than $1.6 million of their dues on “political activities and lobbying” last year alone. While the union’s spending in that category has decreased significantly in recent years thanks to the Freedom Foundation’s campaign to inform public employees of their rights, you’d have to be living in a virtual reality to believe the union’s political work isn’t funded by members’ dues.

The university workers also learned that SEIU 503’s “voluntary” CAPE fund isn’t so voluntary.

In reality, SEIU 503’s bylaws reveal that CAPE is funded not only by voluntary contributions, but also by the automatic transfer of $.75 from each member’s monthly dues payments. While that amount may not seem like much on an individual level, it means that SEIU 503’s “voluntary” political action committee actually receives hundreds of thousands of dollars in involuntary contributions plucked from workers’ paychecks each year.

Finally, the Freedom Foundation informed OSU employees about SEIU 503’s little-known practice of diverting an additional $2.75 from each of their paychecks into a separate political fund it uses for other political campaigns, including ballot measures.

The Freedom Foundation is currently suing SEIU 503 in federal court over this practice.

Perhaps spurred on by the exhaustion of listening to union leaders cite their own opinions as to why the Freedom Foundation is bad, many of the university workers were relieved to hear a different message — one that exposed them to the truth and was backed up by documentation from SEIU 503 itself.

One of them summed it up this way:

“It’s just frustrating to receive SEIU propaganda once or twice a week… I love that Freedom Foundation is fighting back!”

Not just fighting back, but making a measurable impact in the lives of thousands of public employees who for many years were forced to fund government unions like SEIU 503 as a condition of keeping their jobs.

Rest assured, the Freedom Foundation will continue informing employees of the truth.


[1] ‘SourceWatch’ is a project of the Center for Media and Democracy. Federal reports show that the Center for Media and Democracy has received at least $605,730 from government unions over the past several years.

Policy Analyst
Ben Straka serves as a policy analyst for the Freedom Foundation. His responsibilities include an array of policy research and reform efforts, primarily centered around labor relations, education and government transparency within the states. In addition, he provides support for the Freedom Foundation’s Outreach program and works closely with the rest of the team to hold local governments and public-sector unions accountable to state residents. Ben joined the Freedom Foundation in May 2016. He is a native of Eugene, Ore., and a graduate of Corban University, where he studied political science and business.