Give Pro-Life Union Members a Choice
Instead of organizing for better working conditions, labor unions last week organized for abortion rights.
Responding to a leaked draft of a U.S. Supreme Court opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, hospitality union Unite Here tweeted that it would “only endorse and elect pro-choice candidates, whether those choices relate to abortion or a union.” The Association of Flight Attendants labeled the draft opinion an “attack against the majority of this country.” Teachers union president Randi Weingarten endorsed federal legislation to codify abortion rights. The new Starbucks baristas union tweeted: “All of us in the labor movement must fight for our abortion rights.”
Not represented in these statements are the voices of union workers who oppose abortion—but whose dues are used to fund pro-abortion advocacy.
While organized labor sends 90% of its political donations to Democrats, roughly 40% of voters in union households favor Republicans. Members can opt out of supporting their union’s political-action committees, but their dues are still used to fund issue campaigns, lobbying and advocacy organizations that align with the union leaders’ left-of-center values.
An analysis by the nonprofit Center for Union Facts of union spending between 2010 and 2018 found that 99% of these non-PAC payments—totaling nearly $1.7 billion—went to left-wing groups or those aligned with the Democratic Party. Recipients include the Democratic Governors Association, the Clinton Foundation and the Center for American Progress. Payments to Planned Parenthood topped $1.2 million.
Recent Gallup polling shows Americans are split, with roughly even percentages considering themselves “pro-choice” and “pro-life.” But there’s a key distinction: Nonunion workers who object to abortion aren’t subsidizing pro-abortion advocacy through a monthly paycheck deduction. Many union-represented workers provide this subsidy by default, unless they opt out through a cumbersome union-controlled process.
Sen. Tim Scott (R., S.C.) has proposed a fix. His Employee Rights Act of 2022, introduced this spring with support from 27 of his Senate colleagues, would require union leaders to seek members’ opt-in permission for any spending not directly related to collective bargaining.
Mr. Scott’s proposal shouldn’t be controversial. Whether you support abortion, oppose it, or come down somewhere in the middle, you can find common ground on this point: Your money shouldn’t be used to fund the other side of the debate.
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