Pennsylvania Attacks Government Union Abuses


Two bills in the Pennsylvania legislature could curb two of the more egregious government union abuses currently being perpetrated across the nation. Jessica Barnett, policy analyst with the Commonwealth Foundation of Pennsylvania, explains on

Should state government help special interest groups collect political campaign donations?

Most Pennsylvanians would instinctively answer “no.” In fact, using government resources for political purposes is illegal for almost everyone. But behind the scenes, government union leaders have been living by a different set of rules, forcing taxpayers to subsidize millions of dollars in partisan campaign spending.

Here’s how it works: government collects campaign contributions directly from public workers’ paychecks–just like taxes–and distributes the money to union political action committees (PACs).

That’s right, the state is essentially part of government union leaders’ fundraising team.

Union leaders donate this money to candidates and elected officials, who in turn maintain union privileges and block policies union leaders oppose. No other organization benefits from this unethical political privilege.

Imagine if other political heavyweights–like the National Rifle Association or Planned Parenthood–received political fundraising help from government. The outcry would be deafening.

Leveraging their unique advantage, government union PACs have become the dominant special interest in Pennsylvania and the largest single contributor of campaign money.

But these figures are only part of the whole picture. Add in political spending from government union members’ mandatory dues–also collected with taxpayer help–and government union leaders’ influence grows to more than $100 million in the past 10 years.

At the local level, unions siphon resources from schools by plucking teachers from the classroom to work full time for the union instead.

These “ghost teachers” often stay on district payroll, receiving a taxpayer-funded salary and benefits.

Though unions sometimes reimburse expenses, ongoing lawsuits allege Reading and Allentown taxpayers are out nearly $2 million in ghost teacher costs. An eye-opening 22 percent of school districts have a ghost teacher provision in their collective bargaining agreements.