Patty Murray steers millions in federal pork to MLK Labor

Patty Murray steers millions in federal pork to MLK Labor

Patty Murray steers millions in federal pork to MLK Labor

There are many reasons for Americans to be concerned with the bipartisan $1.9 trillion omnibus spending bill (binge?) recently passed by Congress.

The daunting, 4,155-page monster defied the complete comprehension of any one person, even those expected to vote on it, though the parade-of-horribles identified in just the 48 hours after the bill’s release was extensive.

For instance, the legislation contained more than $15 billion in earmarks (officially referred to as “congressionally directed spending”) sought by individual lawmakers to fund pet projects, of varying degrees of necessity, in their home districts.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, labor unions found a way to get a piece of the action, courtesy of Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.).

According to Senate Appropriations Committee records and a press release from Sen. Murray’s office, the omnibus bill contained a $2 million grant via the U.S. Department of Labor for “MLK Labor,” the Martin Luther King, Jr., County Labor Council AFL-CIO, at the request of Sen. Murray. The funding is reportedly to “create an online hiring platform” that will serve as a “virtual hiring hall.”

Of note, according to its Form 990 tax return for 2019, MLK Labor had total annual revenue of $853,000 that year. Unless its revenue has grown substantially in recent years, the $2 million grant likely amounts to more than double MLK Labor’s total annual budget. That’s quite a windfall.

Given such a sum, one might assume the funds will be used to develop said “online hiring platform” from scratch. But MLK Labor already created and operates such a platform.

In September 2021, MLK Labor announced the launch of its “Union Jobs” portal, describing it as “a groundbreaking digital hiring hall that will connect job-seekers with good, union jobs in King County.”

Even then, MLK Labor didn’t shoulder the whole cost of the portal. According to its website, Union Jobs was created, at least in part, “with the financial support of” the Seattle Office of Economic Development.

The earmark probably should come as little surprise. Washington’s labor unions are strong ideological and personal supporters of Sen. Murray, who chairs both the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.

Still, that’s quite a Christmas present to Big Labor from Sen. Murray. If only U.S. taxpayers didn’t have to foot the bill.

Director of Research and Government Affairs
As the Freedom Foundation’s Director of Research and Government Affairs, Maxford Nelsen leads the team working to advance the Freedom Foundation’s mission through strategic research, public policy advocacy, and labor relations. Max regularly testifies on labor issues before legislative bodies and his research has formed the basis of several briefs submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court. Max’s work has been published in local newspapers around the country and in national outlets like the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The Hill, National Review, and the American Spectator. His work on labor policy issues has been featured in media outlets like the New York Times, Fox News, and PBS News Hour. He is a frequent guest on local radio stations like 770 KTTH and 570 KVI. From 2019-21, Max was a presidential appointee to the Federal Service Impasses Panel within the Federal Labor Relations Authority, which resolves contract negotiation disputes between federal agencies and labor unions. Prior to joining the Freedom Foundation in 2013, Max worked for and the Washington Policy Center and interned with the Heritage Foundation. Max holds a labor relations certificate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and graduated magna cum laude from Whitworth University with a bachelor’s degree in political science. A Washington native, he lives in Olympia with his wife and sons.