State budget attack ads funded on backs of union workers’ dues

The latest state budget stalemate prompted a fresh round of political ads highly critical of the Republican majority of the Legislature, complete with annoying elephant yelps. The ads are well produced. They should be. An in-state television executive said America Works USA will spend at least $500,000 on the latest round of TV ads.

Of course, the glossy production doesn’t come with an accuracy implant. The misleading ads talk about “cuts in education,” which doesn’t fit with the fact that the Legislature increased funding for public schools. That, of course, as before Gov. Wolf vetoed $3.1 billion in funding for eduction.

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that government unions have given more than $1.1 million to America Works USA. These funds come from union dues of teachers and state workers, not political action committees.

A total of $1 million of it came from the National Education Association money that comes from the paychecks of school teachers. And $115,000 comes from AFSCME Council 13, representing Pennsylvania state workers’ paychecks. The money is processed by the state treasurer’s office at taxpayers’ expense, we might add.

Many union members are under the impression their dues can’t be used for politics. The latest advertising buy, made by a political action committee that is an arm of the Democratic Governors’ Association and received $14 million from government unions in the last election cycle, shows otherwise.

Of course America Works USA has the right to buy ads critical of those opposed to its political agenda. We just don’t think the organization should be able to access union dues money to pay for the ads. Paycheck protection, which we’ve advocated for years, is long overdue. It would protect all individuals, particularly union workers, from being forced to fund political speech.