Thursday, February 23, 2006

Unions Exploit Immigrants

There is story flying under the radar in Colorado that might have wider implications around the country, thanks to the dogged efforts of former State Rep. Rob Fairbank. When he read in his local paper about the Colorado construction union’s efforts to “recruit” immigrants, regardless of immigration status, he started to connect some dots. Union member’s dues are largely funneled into their PACs, which in turn donate to political candidates (largely Democrats). However, Colorado prohibits non-citizens from donating to candidates. Therefore, a large percentage of union political donations (approximately 66% in the case of CO construction workers) are in fact illegal campaign contributions. He sketches out the current situation in CO here, here and here.

While Rep. Fairbank’s posts are particular to CO, there are elements of the story that should apply to all states. Restricting political donations to U.S. citizens is pretty near a universal state requirement.

Unions have responded by trying to muddy the waters with an argument about illegal immigration. However, those who claim to advocate on behalf of immigrants should be the most outraged, as those workers are, I would argue, the most victimized by this situation.

I am extremely sympathetic to people seeking economic opportunity through hard work. In fact, I would actually like to see it easier for foreign workers to find legal employment here. Those who come to America to work, legally or illegally, want to obey the U.S. law, once they are here. However, unions have made them unwitting accomplices in an effort to circumvent campaign finance law.

Those illegal donations are usually funneled to candidates who take positions that are not in the interests of many immigrant union workers. Unions tend to favor Democrats, who typically take positions that are pro-abortion, liberal on gay issues, and opposed to free trade agreements with developing countries. Latin American immigrants tend to be Catholic, pro-life, and concerned about economic development in their home country, which would benefit from increased trade.

Most immigrants, legal or illegal, start their new lives in America in a precarious economic position. If given a choice, they would most likely prefer to save their money to build a new life here, or to send funds home to family members, rather than give illegal contributions to candidates running in a political system they cannot participate in.

Obviously, this system needs reform. Non-citizen union members should be refunded the portion of their dues that do not directly support collective bargaining efforts. Unfortunately, Democrat politicians and their union paymasters have a vested interest in maintaining the corrupt status quo.