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Unions play a part in elections, too

To the editor:

The “groundswell of concern” regarding the resolution to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling based solely on perceived corporate malfeasance is incomplete without including the similar benefits that accrued to unions. Unions were, in fact, the first to make use of these expanded rights. Any resolution that does not explicitly include unions should not receive support. Unions outpace corporations in political contributions by a large margin, taking eight of the top 12 positions from 1989 through 2014, according to a recent publication. Unions contributed $359 million of the total of $609 million tallied. The top contributor at $97 million was the Act Blue organization, a group that donated 99 percent of its funds to Democratic, and presumably union-leaning, candidates. Of these eight union contributors and their $359 million, just under $195 million, or 54 percent, came from four public sector employee unions. The public sector unions alone outspent the three corporate donors by $40 million. And that does not take into account the more equitable distribution between the parties exhibited by these three corporate donors.

To vilify only corporations in any discussion of the effects of Citizens United is completely misguided. Secondly, as both an income and property taxpayer, it is morally reprehensible to me that public sector unions are allowed to participate to such an extent in the election process.

Taxpayer monies pay the wages of those that work in the public sector. And I wholeheartedly grant that, in most cases, those wages are earned. However, the cycle of public sector union dues being used to elect officials that, in turn raise the wages and benefits of public employees on the backs of taxpayers smacks of racketeering. Public workers closed the pay gap in the 1960s and since the 1980s have outstripped private workers by 35 percent, and by 45 percent including benefits. Any resolution that seeks to lay blame solely on corporations without explicitly including unions is misinformed as to who the real villains are.

Rick Villaume


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