Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton is slowly forming an uneasy relationship with organized labor, which has been hesitant to officially endorse her, despite showing considerable support elsewhere.
“We have to stand firmly together and united on behalf of your right to organize, your right to bargain collectively, your right to fight for the higher wages that reflect the value of your work,” Hillary said while talking in Chicago Wednesday.
Unions wield considerable political influence and are some of the most generous contributors during campaigns, especially to Democrats. As such, an endorsement from organized labor could allow Hillary to move even further ahead of Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and the rest of her Democratic competition, not to mention if she finally goes up against the Republican pick.
However, unions have taken their time releasing any official endorsements. In fact, The Union of Unemployed is one of the few labor groups that have officially endorsed her, noting her commitment to working families. Nevertheless, even without an official endorsement, many unions have shown support in other ways.
“Hillary Clinton is right: it’s time for, in her words, a ‘full and equal path to citizenship’ that will bring immigrants out of the shadows to become engaged participants in our communities and in our economy,” The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) International President Mary Kay Henry said earlier in the month.
“Working people, together, are rising,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said during an April speech. “The question is, will our candidates listen? Will they seize this opportunity? I wonder, and so do the vast majority of working Americans. The truth is we’re skeptical.”
Even without the wave of endorsements, unions have been very generous to Hillary including donating to her charitable group The Clinton Foundation which has been the center of controversy as of recently.
According to documents from Department of Labor, which were obtained by the National Institute for Labor Relations Research (NILRB), organized labor gave at least $2,034,500 to the Foundation. The charitable group, which has broken an earlier promise to publish all of its donors, has been criticized as being nothing more than a slush fund for the Clintons. Additionally some have criticized Hillary for making favorable deals with foreign entities in return for donations to the foundation.
NILRR notes the union contributions are particularly troublesome because much of it was taken from union general treasury funds which are made up mostly by compulsory union dues or fees collected from workers who would be fired if they didn’t pay.
Additionally, according to sources for The Daily Caller News Foundation, at least some of this money is likely coming from nonmembers who are supposed to be able to opt out of contributing to union spending unrelated to workplace representation. Workers in mandatory dues state can opt out of paying full dues but they must still pay what is known as fair-share fees. Such fees are meant to cover the cost of representation like contract enforcement and bargaining.
Dispute this, some fair-share dues may be going to the Clinton Foundation. In two known instances, the Seafarers Union and The Building and Construction Trades Department (BCTD) categorized their contributions to the Clinton Foundation as “General Overhead” and “Representational Activities” respectively.
The Seafarers Union and BCTD did not respond to a request for comment from TheDCNF.
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