“We will stop the unfairness of requiring union workers to contribute to politicians not of their choosing,” he said.
Involuntary political contributions from union members are illegal.
If union officials made rank-and-filers give money to candidates they didn’t support, “they’d be thrown in jail,” said Bill Londrigan, president of the Kentucky State AFL-CIO.
“Unions are prohibited by federal law from using membership dues for partisan political purposes,” said Dave Suetholz, a Louisville , Kentucky, labor lawyer. He added that union members cannot be forced to contribute to candidates against their will.
Kip Phillips said Romney is flat fibbing about unions again. “I call him the ‘flim flam man,’” said Phillips, United Steelworkers international vice president at large and assistant to President Leo Gerard.
Phillips said union members can chip in money to campaigns by one of two methods, both strictly voluntary.
“You can negotiate a contract that has a PAC – political action committee – check off. Members can chose whatever amount they want to contribute or they can choose not to contribute. If they want to contribute, the amount is deducted from their paycheck. Otherwise, they are free to make donations on their own.
“But they cannot be coerced to give money to candidates.”
Jeff Wiggins of Paducah , Kentucky , freely gives money to candidates he plans to vote for. He’s president of the Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council and Steelworkers Local 9447 in nearby Calvert City .
“We can give money or not, it’s up to each of us individually,” said Wiggins, who is also on the Kentucky State AFL-CIO Executive Board.
Wiggins explained: “The money that union members voluntarily contribute goes toward the candidates that union political action committees or state labor federations vote to endorse. Those votes are based on recommendations from elected representatives at the local, state and national level.”
Steve Earle said the same is true of the United Mine Workers. “We cannot compel any Mineworker to contribute to any candidate against his or her will,” said Earle, Madisonville-headquartered UMWA District 12 international vice president. “We ask for voluntary contributions from our rank and file membership. But they don’t have to contribute.”
Earle said Romney “is a union-hater and pro-corporate America . He’ll say anything to get elected.”
Londrigan said Romney is lying again “about unions as he crusades on behalf of the rich and powerful against organized labor.”
Suetholz said he helped start the Louisville-based Kentucky Labor Institute to help combat untruths spread by “plutocrats like Romney who have to attack unions because they are the last democratic, grassroots bastion for the people impeding total corporate and plutocratic dominance of our society.”
Posted: Sunday, 29 April 2012