Freedom Foundation

How SEIU 503 spent members’ dues in 2017

In 2017, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 503 demonstrated once again its love of wasting dues payers’ money. The union withheld $30.4 million in dues and fees from the pay of more than 55,000 employees — many of whom probably didn’t realize a significant portion of it wasn’t even used to represent them.

SEIU leaders loudly proclaim solidarity with its members and proudly add the phrase “In It Together” to the end of all their correspondence. But are the union’s spending priorities genuinely consistent with the 55,000 workers forced to pay dues as a condition of employment?

The union’s latest LM-2 report, filed with the U.S. Department of Labor, suggests not.

Let’s begin by looking at the SEIU bosses’ salaries, which are also paid from workers’ forced dues and fees.

Seventeen SEIU 503 staff members were paid six-figure salaries last year. And although outgoing SEIU 503 Executive Director Brian Rudiger scooped up $112,838 during his short-lived tenure, perhaps it should come as no surprise that the union’s highest-paid employee was actually its political director, Melissa Unger.

Unger spent 95 percent of her time on “political activities and lobbying,” for which she pulled down a whopping $114,142.

In total, SEIU 503 nearly doubled its political spending from the previous year, funneling more than $4 million in 2017 to support political causes and candidates in Oregon. In addition, a grand total of $7.3 million in dues money was sent to SEIU’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., to fund the union’s aggressive political action on the national level.

Spending like that doesn’t exactly scream solidarity – especially when it’s used to support a political and ideological agenda that represents the beliefs of only a fraction of the workers forced to fund it.

And the egregious spending doesn’t end there.

SEIU 503 managed to squander even more hardworking members’ dues in 2017 than in the previous year, throwing wads of cash at everything from political donations to catering bills and hotel rooms.

For example, $112, 969 was paid to attorneys by SEIU 503 last year. Much of that was used to fight the Freedom Foundation’s efforts to inform employees of their constitutional right to opt out of paying union dues, including $5,000 in legal fees after we successfully filed a lawsuit to help employees exercise those rights.

SEIU leaders also treated themselves to many a good night’s sleep on the worker dollar, spending over $180,000 on hotels. They were also eating like kings— more than $54,000 was spent on catering and food delivery for SEIU 503 employees last year.

That breaks down to over $1,000 per week just to curb the union’s appetite.

Last but not least, SEIU allocated $267,936 to seek outside help from various “consultants,” sending thousands of dollars in members’ dues money to high-priced firms in Michigan, Alabama, Washington, Wisconsin, California, New York and, of course, Washington, D.C.

The union’s tagline “In It Together” suggests a solidarity between SEIU 503 and its rank-and-file members. But in reality, it’s a much better description of the SEIU 503 leaders’ relationship with the politicians they help elect.

The revolving door between union lobbying and growing government remains profitable for those in charge of both entities. Requiring all public employees to pour their money down a black hole of union spending—one that hardly benefits them, no less—is nothing short of illegal.

Fortunately for the victimized public employees, it doesn’t always have to be this way.

A month from now, the Supreme Court will hear a Janus vs. AFSCME, a case that could free government workers from being forced to pay dues as a condition of employment. If the Supreme Court heeds the First Amendment, public-sector unions finally will be held accountable to their own members for their fraud, rampant waste and political aggression.

And when that happens, you can bet the union leaders’ response won’t be complying with the law.