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Right-Wing Alliance Aims Mortal Blow at Unions

Koch Brothers funded groups across the country are raising money to 'defund and defang' unions and the progressive left

Kris LaGrange's picture
Sep 07, 2017

With Trump in the White House and states across the country trying to pass Right to Work laws, the Koch Brothers are foaming at the mouth to deal a “mortal blow” to organized labor. In an effort to “defund and defang unions,” the Koch Brothers State Policy Network (SPN) has spent the last year raising $80 Million to destroy not only the labor movement but to cause a complete collapse of the progressive coalition.

A fundraising letter that was sent out by SPN details the plan. The letter details their plan to “deliver the mortal blow to permanently break its (unions and the left’s) stranglehold on our society.” For SPN, they do not just see the defeat of public sector unions as helping business, but rather as permanently breaking progressive politics in America. By making it harder and harder to collect union dues they hope to deprive the left of millions of dollars in funding.

In the letter, SPN says that there is a change in the air, with regards to destroying unions. They tout the work that their state partners did in passing Right to Work recently in West Virginia, as well as over the previous few years throughout the Mid-West. The fight against organized labor even goes beyond taking away bargaining power. SPN brags about how their state affiliates have further weakened teachers unions by expanding charter schools and creating the first county wide school voucher program in the nation. Even when a state has become Right to Work, that is not enough for SPN. Some of their stated goals include pushing paycheck deception bills, making changes to certification requirements that force unions to recertify every few years and increasing the number of votes they need to get in order to recertify, as well as an outright ban on collective bargaining for public employees.

While SPN claims that their fight against unions is about protecting employees, it is clear that the fight is meant to defund a number of progressive causes. Some of the issues that they cite include labors support for the ACA (Obamacare), a higher minimum wage, and their general support for Democrats.

It is extremely rare for a fundraising letter from SPN to become public, especially one that is this strongly worded. SPN and their affiliates are all non-profit “charities,” so the language that is so explicitly political may be a violation of their tax-exempt status. “A charity that does those things is not engaging in charitable activities and that puts its tax-exempt status in jeopardy,” Mark Owens, a former IRS lawyer, told the Guardian. The letter’s release also came as SPN and their state affiliates met in San Antonio to discuss their political agenda for the next year and how they can continue to push anti-union laws with the support of Trump.  With Trump now in office, it seems like the Koch Brothers’ organizations are no longer worried about violating tax law and are willing to give up the farce that they are anything more than fronts for Republicans to attack labor and the left.

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