It was natural to include unions in the Mapping the Left website. They are the quintessential leftist political machine. With virtually unlimited bank accounts, thanks to mandatory membership and dues, more lawyers than one would care to count, and the best community organizing structure (thanks to the cash), they are the model for the activist Left. So, how do they fit in with North Carolina’s vast progressive/socialist network of groups?
Knowing that North Carolina’s union membership is one of the lowest in the country, we had to make the case that unions play a vital role in the strategy and workings of the enormous progressive movement in our state. Ahead of only South Carolina, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in a January 28, 2016 news release, listed North Carolina as one of five states that had union membership rates below 5.0 percent in 2015. North Carolina’s rate was 3.0 percent (up from 1.9 percent in 2014) while South Carolina’s rate was at 2.1 percent.
Recently the Left has helped us make the case for including labor unions in Mapping the Left. Historically, most North Carolinians would not have wanted to identify as liberal and would have certainly rejected the idea of unions – our state is proud to be known as a “right to work” state. In the past, liberals kept their political ideology to themselves, all the while identifying as “conservative Democrats,” and unions and their members kept an even lower profile. But it seems that in the last few years, with the demise of the state Democrat Party, and the subsequent emergence of hundreds of liberal/progressive groups linked together by money and ideology, unions have chosen to take their stand publicly.
In the last five years, we’ve watched as unions have taken their place across North Carolina in get-out-the vote efforts for political campaigns and as organizers at rallies and protests against the conservative agenda. At recent protests, we have even seen them begin to present themselves as the bullies we are accustomed to seeing on the national level.
In this Wall Street Journal article, Bob Biersack, Senior Fellow, Center for Responsive Politics, who spent 30 years on staff of the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) explains that labor’s financial influence in campaigns appears to be much higher than once thought.
“We have always known that much of [unions’] influence comes from their political mobilization, but we have never been able to put a number on it. They are a human force in the political process, but a lot of that falls outside the kind of spending that needs to be disclosed to the FEC.”
According to the OpenSecrets.org, unions spent more than $1.1 billion from 2005 through 2011 supporting Federal candidates through their Political Action Committees (PACs). In addition to direct contributions, the unions’ undisclosed political mobilization efforts Biersack referred to adds an additional $3.3 billion in the same period.
Some highlights of union activity since 2010 coordinated with the many left-wing groups working in North Carolina include:
In 2011 the A. Philip Randolph Institute, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO whose namesake was an avowed socialist, joined Common Cause, a left-wing non-profit that specializes in community organizing and Planned Parenthood, the nationally known organization that promotes abortion, to overturn the majority on a single county board of education. They were successful helping Democrats regain the majority on the Wake County School Board. All three of these groups are members of the Blueprint NC network of progressive groups. Blueprint NC is the organization famous for the 2013 strategy memo that described the game plan for their membership to use to attack North Carolina’s Republican leaders. Blueprint NC was formed by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation in 2006 to help “progressive” advocacy groups coordinate activities and messaging. Blueprint NC’s strategy memo recommendations included:
* “Crippling their leaders”
* “Eviscerate the leadership and weaken their ability to govern”
* “Pressure McCrory at every public event”
The Moral Monday protests began in 2013 and were no doubt a direct result of the Blueprint NC strategy memo. Hundreds of protesters recruited by North Carolina’s liberal advocacy groups, including unions, gathered at the legislature on Mondays during the 2013 session to protest the General Assembly’s agenda – leading to arrests each week. Labor always had a presence at these protests, from hosting to organization of each week’s protest. The protests began to fizzle out in 2014 and by 2015 the protests were virtually non-existent.
Shortly before the September 2015 hearing on the 2013 elections reform legislation (VIVA) we discovered something Civitas and others had suspected but hadn’t confirmed – the Moral Monday organization in 2013-2014 was a union-funded project.
It was the North Carolina Republican Party that discovered and highlighted U.S. Department of Labor reports showing $20,000 in 2014 in direct compensation from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to William Barber, the president of the NC NAACP (Blueprint member) who is also the Moral Monday mouthpiece.
The NCGOP also exposed millions of dollars being funneled from the SEIU and other labor unions to groups that worked to organize and populate Moral Monday rallies. The reports also suggested the money was used to pay protesters to push a radical agenda. Finally, the revelations showed that union money, coordinated with the left-wing Blueprint “eviscerate” NC organization, was the fuel that kept the protests going until they began to fade away during the 2014 legislative session.
According to the NCGOP:
- In 2014, SEIU funneled $1.5 million to a shell group in North Carolina called “Carolina Workers Organizing Committee.”
- That group paid $1.12 million of the SEIU money to Moral Monday backer “Action NC,” a group registered in Charlotte and a member of the notorious Blueprint NC organization.
- Deep in the Labor Department’s report for Carolina Workers Organizing Committee is data showing Action NC used the money for “Payroll Services” to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars each month – totaling $1.1 million.
UNC Board of Governors Meeting
On January 26, 2016, demonstrators attempted to disrupt a UNC Board of Governors meeting. The four people arrested ended up with an assortment of charges, including resisting and obstructing an officer, disorderly conduct and assault inflicting serious injury of a law enforcement officer. Protesters represented a myriad of left-wing groups, including UNControlables, a student anarchist group, Students United for Reproductive Justice, Queer People of Color Collective and Ignite NC.
The union link came from a News & Observer article reporting that the “demonstration had been announced in advance by a group called the Faculty Forward Network. The announcement was sent by a representative of the Service Employees International Union.”
As for the ACORN-SEIU connection, in 2009, before the supposed downfall of ACORN, Matthew Vadum, writing for the Capital Research Center, said, “ACORN was virtually indistinguishable from SEIU.”
In light of these and many more examples, the Union network is a natural as the newest network in the Mapping the Left database.