Unclean Hands: Unions And Progressive Groups That Don’t Practice What They Preach

by | Sep 27, 2023 | Corruption, Don't Be a Jerk, Industry, Labor Relations Ink, Leadership, Nonprofit, SEIU, Union Leaders, Unions, White-Collar

Earlier this year, we discussed the Center for Union Facts nonprofit’s “educational campaign” that criticized Workers United/SEIU’s hypocritical ties with Amalgamated Bank. That financial institution is 40% owned by the outwardly progressive SEIU, which appears to ignore the bank’s history of backing private prisons and tobacco companies, viewed by some as a social issue. A linked billboard campaign called out the “hypocrisy” and “broken promises” of Workers United for this affiliation.

Formally, that is not a display of UAW-level corruption, but it’s not a good look, and it’s not as uncommon as some might expect. A wave of recent accusations about similarly hypocritical behavior has surfaced against other “progressive” groups and unions. Curiously enough, many of these allegations reflect these organizations’’ toxic workplace cultures and poor working conditions as claimed by their own employees. 

The American Civil Liberties Union has recently been accused of illegally firing a worker who voiced concerns about working conditions, long hours, and low wages. So much irony: the ACLU has built much of its reputation upon the fight for free speech.

The Service Employees International Union found itself branded as the “Worst Employer In America” in a video spot by the Center for Union Facts, which detailed how the SEIU pushed back against its own workers’ efforts to form a union amid pay disputes. This nonprofit’s campaign against the SEIU also included a Times Square billboard inquiring, “Who’s America’s Worst Boss?” 

The nonprofit’s other myriad accusations against the influential and deep-pocketed union include alleged retaliation against workers who filed sexual harassment accusations. The union’s deteriorating workplace conditions have also been alluded to in Glassdoor reviews from former employees who allege an intolerable workplace culture. 

The SEIU also holds a long-standing pattern of textbook union corruption, which has led to over a dozen federal convictions of union officers, one of whom pleaded guilty in 2022 to conspiring to steal half a billion dollars in union funds. 

Color of Change, a civil rights nonprofit that sprung from the wreckage of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, is the subject of a Business Insider investigative report that digs into its own tumultuous workplace, which sees a striking amount of turnover while workers allege rampant funds mismanagement that led to mass layoffs. Further alleged misconduct by leadership includes sexual assault, gender discrimination, and bullying. 

In 2020, Color of Change workers formed a union, and since that time, about 25% of the union’s members have been laid off in multiple rounds. The organization claimed that these dismissals were tied to a financial downturn, yet workers expressed skepticism due to the organization continually throwing lavish parties for celebrity spokespeople. Workers also claim that the group squandered one tidal wave of donations, which followed George Floyd’s murder, by purchasing a luxury LA property. Further claims by workers cite apparent refusals to bargain by Color of Change to bargain with its own union.

Clearly, the grace period is over for these groups, and it’s only a matter of time before they have to answer to the progressive values they espouse to others.

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