Freedom Foundation

SEIU 503 promotes top lobbyist to Executive Director

The union’s pick for executive director signals an increasingly political vision in preparation for changes to the law of the land.

In union terms, Melissa Unger has spent her “fair share” of time in Oregon’s political machine.

Unger is known as a high-profile lobbyist for a trial lawyer’s association. She also served as political director for Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 503, and happens to be the sister of Ben Unger, executive director Our Oregon, an extreme left-wing organization dedicated to its convoluted vision of “economic and social fairness.”

Her experience as a Democratic operative makes her a natural choice to lead SIEU 503. The hire signifies that, as suspected, the union is far more interested in advancing a leftist political agenda than actually representing members.

Coincidentally, SEIU 503 is one of the top funders of Our Oregon. This cross-pollination seems only logical, given the latter is notorious for pouring heaps of money into left-wing candidate campaigns and ballot measures—most recently Measure 97. The organization’s board members include staff from all the left-wing heavy hitters—unions OEA, AFSCME 75 and AFL-CIO, as well as Planned Parenthood, NARAL and, of course, SEIU 503.

In what is likely not the final move towards aggressive politicization of the unions in the coming months, SEIU is bolstering its C Suite with the elite of Oregon’s political left, who will turn the union into a well-oiled machine whose priorities include hiking taxes, swelling the government and influencing the Legislature to the union’s own benefit.

After a ruling on Janus v. AFSCME drops in late June, public-sector employees will likely be freed from the requirement of paying dues or fees to unions as a condition of employment. Once this ruling becomes the law of the land, however, unions will drop the pretext of representing workers to become even more overtly political.

Under current law, only a certain percentage of revenue can be used for explicitly political causes. Post-Janus, we will continue to see more aggressive, extreme and outright political moves from unions to compensate for the thousands of members they are preparing to lose.

Until the Supreme Court rules that workers have the right to opt out of union dues under the First Amendment, public employees are stuck paying fees and dues to SEIU as a condition of employment. Once that system is abolished, unions will be forced to change the way they operate.

SEIU’s selection of Melissa Unger betrays a shift in the union’s strategy—not one towards incentivizing membership by offering better representation and benefits, as one might imagine. Instead, the union is choosing to move further to the left, morphing into a more extreme, decidely political organization in preparation for the hit they’re about to take in the Supreme Court.