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The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has a long history of being a little too close to politics. The question raised in the examples below are if union members were involved of their own free will or if they were being pressured to be politically active for a certain party or candidate. People are often left asking if these activists are grassroots or astroturf, especially in light of the fact that some have been paid for their activism.
In March, SEIU members were overheard discussing a $20 payday for protesting in support of Obamacare outside the Supreme Court. In August, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry told MSNBC that they were planning to sent 100,000 volunteers in swing states to have “13 million conversations,” including phone calls, door knocks, and personal conversations. It was unclear whether or not these “volunteers” were being paid.
In September, SEIU activists were caught on tape again admitting to being paid. In this instance, members were paid $11 per hour to protest Romney at a Cleveland event. “We rode down here every day,” said one protestor “They’re paying $11 an hour.”
Now comes new information from a former SEIU organizer. This anonymous organizer told a right-to-work group that he and other workers were forced to volunteer their time for Democratic campaigns, a practice he called “mandatory volunteerism.” He said they “had to do some political work. We were required as staff to do that.”
National Right to Work Legal Defense spokesman Patrick Semmens said “Organized labor’s mission has almost completely morphed from representing workers on the shop floor to pushing left-wing politics. The only difference between Big Labor and other political groups is that union officials get to force workers to contribute, instead of relying on voluntary contributions.”
The SEIU appears to be more interested in using members for their own political gain rather than to protect them. The union’s hold on employees is far overstepping their purview. When a worker feels that his or her employment or personal safety could be on the line based on the employer’s political affiliation, it is time for workplace freedom.