Follow the money? WPC funding is private and voluntary. Public sector union funding is public and mandatory

April 21, 2011

On April 13th a reader of the Sequim Gazette angrily wrote in response to my guest column about the power of public sector unions within state government, saying we should “out” people who support WPC.  We often hear this criticism from our friends on the left -- here’s my response, which the Gazette published yesterday.

In his recent letter Jim Dries says Washington Policy Center should reveal its donors, the way public sector unions have to report their campaign giving.  However, he ignores an important difference.

Washington Policy Center is a non-profit organization supported by voluntary contributions from people across our state who want to make Washington a better place to live, work and run a business.  Our membership levels start at $50 a year.  We do not receive any public money.  Public sector unions, on the other hand, receive nearly all their money from taxpayers, in the form of mandatory dues. Unions typically charge workers around $900 a year. Failure to pay is a firing offense.

Washington Policy Center makes no political contributions, while public sector unions are heavily involved in politics.  Most union spending goes to Democrats, meaning public dollars flow from taxpayers to workers to unions to politics. National commentator Michael Barone says, “In effect, public employee unions are a mechanism by which every taxpayer is forced to fund the Democratic Party” (“Who benefits from government unions?” by Michael Barone, Real Clear Politics, February 24, 2011).

Campaign money means public sector unions help elect their own bosses.  Washington Policy Center funding is private and voluntary.  Public sector union funding is public and mandatory.  That is why it is important for the public to know the powerful role unions play in our government.