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 Jonathan Mandell on November 16, 2005, 5:29 am
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