SEIU Forced To Cut Staff At HQ Following Massive Political Spending In 2016

Ted Goodman | Reporter

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) spent $61 million on political activities and lobbying in 2016, as well as an additional $19 million on the Fight for $15 movement. Now that spending is leading to massive layoffs.

The powerful union’s most recent Department of Labor filings revealed that the union spent $61.6 million, or about 20 percent of its $314.6 million budget, on political activities, including Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 presidential campaign, according to Bill McMorris of the Washington Free Beacon.

While the union picked up a modest 15,000 new members in 2016, it has seen revenues fall, leading to staff layoffs inside its Washington, D.C. headquarters, according to the report.

According to McMorris, the $61.6 million figure was $13 million higher than what was spent in 2014, but $51 million less than what the union spent during former President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.

The SEIU, which represents over two million members in the public sector, service, and healthcare industry, made plans to cut its budget by 30 percent after President Donald Trump defeated Clinton in November. (RELATED: SEIU Curtails Spending As It Braces For Trump Presidency)

SEIU president Mary Kay Henry called for a dramatic re-thinking of the union’s strategy, characterizing Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress as the “far right.”

“Because the far right will control all three branches of the federal government, we [The SEIU] will face serious threats to the ability of working people to join together in unions,” Henry said in a Dec. 14, 2016 internal memo obtained by Bloomberg.

The SEIU endorsed Clinton in November 2015, despite growing support among rank-and-file union members for Socialist Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who backed a $15 minimum wage, something Clinton did not fully support as late as Nov. 3, 2015, when she said she favored a $12 minimum wage.

The union has been a big proponent and financial supporter of the “Fight for $15” movement, an area where they have seen incremental progress. Seattle, Wash., raised its minimum wage to $15 in 2014, followed by San Francisco and Los Angeles. Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law a new $15 minimum wage for his state in 2016, and the University of California proposed to pay its low-wage employees $15.

The union also declared victory after President Trump’s initial selection to lead the Department of Labor, former CKE Restaurant CEO Andy Puzder, withdrew his name from consideration after Senate Republicans informed the White House that they didn’t have the votes to confirm him.

“Fight for $15” activists, and unions waged an all-out campaign to block Puzder from the Labor post, forcing Trump to select a new nominee, Florida attorney R. Alexander Acosta. (RELATED: Inside The Union-Backed Campaign To Block Puzder)

The SEIU spent $142 million on representational activities and $144.9 million on overhead, politics and the Fight for $15 movement, according to McMorris.

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