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Labor Unions And Campaign Contributions
November 16th, 2005

Should two affiliated locals within the same national labor union have the right to make separate campaign contributions to New York candidates?

That is the question that has been debated vigorously since the Campaign Finance Board proposed regulations in March that would have prohibited separate contributions — a move that prompted such an outcry that the board backed down.

But today, the City Council is expected to vote on a bill that would stop the board from going ahead with such a ban. An editorial in the Daily News today entitled
“City Council Money Grab” is sharply critical of the bill, to be introduced by Councilmember Bill deBlasio. ” The Council’s 48 Democrats (out of a membership of 51) rely heavily on labor to provide campaign workers and general logistical support, so it is perhaps no surprise that they would think nothing of eviscerating the campaign finance rules to let unions back them with big bucks, too,” the Daily News writes. “Organized labor deserves a voice in the city’s political life – but no more of a voice than other donors.” The News editorial makes similar arguments against the bill as previous editorials in the Times and the Post.

However, Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez sees it differently, echoing the charge by organized labor that the Campaign Finance Board’s regulations are part of its overall efforts to restrict unfairly the voice of labor in local elections. “Two locals within the same national union can have very different memberships, leaders and interests,” Gonzalez wrote yesetrday. “Because of that, they should be regarded as separate organizations when it comes to campaign finance limits. Two of the city’s most powerful unions, Local 32B-32J and 1199, for example, belong to the same Service Employees International Union. Local 32B-32J represents tens of thousands of private maintenance workers and security guards in the metropolitan area, while Local 1199 represents nearly 240,000 health care workers. In last week’s election, Local 32B-32J supported Republican Mayor Bloomberg while 1199 championed Democratic challenger Fernando Ferrer.” It would be unfair, Gonzalez writes, to treat them as one organization, which would mean that both together could only contribute a maximum of $2,750 for any one City Council candidate.

By on November 16, 2005, 5:29 am
In category: Electoral Politics,Governing,Public Finance | 2 Comments »

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2 Responses to “Labor Unions And Campaign Contributions”

  1. Curtis Johnson Says:
    February 8th, 2006 at 9:21 pm

    Hillary Clinton was on Wal-Mart’s board of directors

    WARD HARKAVY, VILLAGE VOICE, 2000 – Twice in three days last week, Hillary
    Rodham Clinton basked in the adulation of cheering union members. Her
    record
    of supporting collective bargaining, however, is considerably worse than
    wobbly. Pity the thousands of unionists at last Tuesday’s state Democratic
    convention who chanted her name, and the hundreds of retired Teamsters at
    Thursday’s luncheon in midtown who had interrupted their Founder’s Day meal

    to hear the corporate litigator turned union-loving Democrat deliver a
    campaign speech.

    They would have dropped their forks if they had heard that Hillary served
    for six years on the board of the dreaded Wal-Mart, a union-busting
    behemoth. If they had learned the details of her friendship with Wal-Mart,
    they might have lost their lunches. . . In 1986, when Hillary was first
    lady
    of Arkansas, she was put on the board of Wal-Mart. Officials at the time
    said she wasn’t filling a vacancy. In May 1992, as Hubby’s presidential
    campaign heated up, she resigned from the board of Wal-Mart. Company
    officials said at the time that they weren’t going to fill her vacancy.

    So what the hell was she doing on the Wal-Mart board? According to press
    accounts at the time, she was a show horse at the company’s annual meetings

    when founder Sam Walton bused in cheering throngs to celebrate his
    non-union
    empire, which is headquartered in Arkansas, one of the country’s poorest
    states. According to published reports, she was placed in charge of the
    company’s “green” program to protect the environment. But nobody got
    greener
    than Sam Walton and his family. For several years in the ’80s, he was
    judged
    the richest man in America by Forbes magazine. . .

    Was Hillary the voice of conscience on the board for American and foreign
    workers? Contemporary accounts make no mention of that. They do describe
    her
    as a “corporate litigator” in those days, and they mention, speaking of
    environmental matters, that she also served on the board of Lafarge, a
    company that, according to a press account, once burned hazardous fuels to
    run its cement plants. . .

    The Clintons depended on Wal-Mart’s largesse not only for Hillary’s regular

    payments as a board member but for travel expenses on Wal-Mart planes and
    for heavy campaign contributions to Bill’s campaigns there and nationally.
    .
    .

    Meanwhile, Wal-Mart’s first lady, who also benefited from Wal-Mart stock,
    solicits support from union workers. Which makes her words to the elderly
    Teamsters last week especially poignant: “You can count on me to stand up
    for the right to collectively bargain!” Right on, sister!

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