Wednesday, August 6, 2008

More on EFCA – California reveals the future we can expect in an Obama Administration with the passage of “The Employee (not so) Fairness Act”

In California’s unionized school districts teachers cannot work unless they are a member of the approved union. They must pay dues or the district must fire them. Is this freedom of choice? And how are their dues used - part of their forced dues are used to lobby for raising taxes, including on teachers? If that isn’t bad enough, the required dues are used to defeat tax cutting ballot measures and candidates who oppose tax increases and other teacher union agendas. After EFCA is passed during an Obama administration the practices described below can be expected to be replicated wherever unions get the expanded control of business as the proposed law envisions.

Teachers’ unions have had great success representing union interests and convincing the public that union’s interests and the interests of public school students are one and the same. Teacher members of the National Education Association (NEA) as part of their dues pay each year into a "Ballot Measure/Legislative Crises Fund" that allows the union to spend tens of millions of dollars on state and national political issues. According to Steve Frank, "Mike Antonucci of the Education Intelligence Agency, a longtime union watchdog, has tracked this fund’s spending. In the 2007-08 fiscal year, not surprisingly, the NEA spent $2.3 million — on top of $1 million spent the previous fiscal year — fighting a school voucher referendum in Utah." Of course political spending by teachers’ unions in California is considerably greater because of the larger number of NEA members in the state.

It is also interesting that this national NEA fund is separate from PAC contributions that must adhere to federal campaign-finance laws; spending this money is not accountable and is used for a variety of left-wing political causes. Mr. Antonucci reports that during the current fiscal year the NEA sent the Hawaii State Teachers Association $20,000 to conduct polling on a state constitutional convention. It sent the Massachusetts Teachers Association $60,000 to oppose state income-tax repeal, $20,000 to the Florida Education Association and an additional $200,000 to oppose property-tax cuts in the Florida.

Again, according to Steve Frank,

"Expect more of the same going forward in a state near you. ‘Unlike most previous years,’ writes Mr. Antonucci, ‘NEA finished 2007-08 with a surplus of nearly $5.9 million, which means the union will enter the 2008-09 school year with almost $20 million available to spend.’ It’s a shame the NEA doesn’t spend as much money and effort trying to improve lousy schools as it does trying to keep taxes high."

The NEA often operates like one of the Tony Soprano controlled unions. You may not be aware because liberal news media is loathe to publish anything critical of labor unions but a teachers union in California has been caught illegally spending $110,000 on politics. One of the first audits of a teachers union shows corruption and abuse of the members, including those forced to join the union just to be allowed to work.

It was discovered that the Teachers Association of Long Beach (TALB) seems to have used general fund money for political expenses and may have spent at least $110,000 more on its election campaigns than authorized; according to an audit obtained by the Press-Telegram.

The audit firm Hemming Morse Inc. based in California was hired to investigate allegations of fiscal mismanagement at the NEA Long Beach chapter. The audit was unsealed as part of a lawsuit and TALB finances were analyzed to determine whether the union properly managed the funds earmarked for election campaigns in 2006 and 2008. The union spent funds to elect school board candidates in 2006 and 2008 and on one of the Long Beach City Councilwoman's successful run for council two years ago.

TALB is supposed to maintain separate accounts for union operations its general fund and for its political affairs. Teachers can choose not to have their dues spent on political causes and this money is to be kept in a non-political fund. But auditors found that it looks like TALB used $39,629 from its nonpolitical accounts for campaign purposes, according to the audit. Because union members designated specific amounts of their dues for non political activities, the use of TALB’s financial funds from these designated funds for political activities "would be considered a misappropriation of funds," according to the auditors.

Campaign finance filings by TALB with the state show an even greater amount of union campaign spending for the 2006 election: $543,481, according to an audit for that year. The total is more than $53,000 greater than that shown in the union’s general ledger and about $163,500 over what the board budgeted in January for the 2006 races, much of which seems also to have been taken from funds which were to be designated for non political purposes.

In an Obama administration passage of the EFCA is virtually assured. Expansion of unions into businesses as will occur under the law will greatly increase union influence on the political process for the benefit of Democrats - the circle of self interest will get larger and larger. As an old Austrian friend used to say "one hand washes the other and together they wash the face."

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