A Look at the Machine That Takes Hope Out of RI Politics

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The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity today published a report that I wrote (with huge help from Monique Chartier) detailing some of the evidence for a long-running claim I’ve made about public labor unions: that many of them no longer see labor services as their reason for being, but rather as the way in which they gather money and power in order to support their real purpose, which is progressive advocacy.

This report reviews the political spending from funds deriving from the dues and donations paid by public employees in Rhode Island in 2018. Among the findings are that:

  • 97% of government union campaign contributions went to Democrats.
  • Over $411,000 was spent by unions to influence elections.
  • SEIU contributed about $150,000 to Democrats, who that year gave the union a major legislative victory that opened the door for the unionization of home care workers.
  • 96% of recipients of NEARI PACE donations were Democrats.
  • 95% of recipients of AFT (RI) donations were Democrats.
  • 99% of recipients of the RI Brotherhood of Correctional Officers donations were Democrats.
  • 98% of recipient of the RI Association of Firefighters donations were Democrats.
  • 96% of recipients of the RI AFL-CIO PAC donations were Democrats.
  • Over a half-million dollars was spent by unions on lobbying and related legislative outreach.

Readers should go through the report, though, because it’s not just a ho-hum tally of what everybody knows.  Wherever one looks at the labor unions in Rhode Island, one finds not just a connection to Democrats, but also deep crony corruption mixed with an overt plan to bring a “one big union” approach to pushing far-left policies.

For years, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity has been warning Ocean State policymakers and voters that the far-left policies of our corrupt insider system of government — with the heavy regulations that give it power and the high taxes that pay its costs — is driving productive residents out of the state. As Rhode Islanders seek to turn their talents and labor into household income to support their families, they increasingly find they must look elsewhere.

Economics are not the whole story, however. Large portions of Rhode Islanders’ tax dollars flow through the union dues of hard-working government employees and fund a political machine that makes change impossible. Many conclude that there is no hope for change and therefore no reason to stay. …

All of this activism (not to mention personal benefit for politicians, union organizers, and far-left ideologues) comes at the expense of government employees, who act as a passthrough for taxpayer dollars. For many union members, it also comes with a direct assault on their own principles. Only the most radical government employees could possibly agree with every political cause that benefits from labor union support in the political arena, and not only are many of them not represented well, politically, when it comes to labor unions, but they are forced to help pay for an attack on their own beliefs and values. They are also forced to be part of the web of corruption that harms their families and violates the rights of their neighbors.