Pouring through union financial documents is often a laborious and time-consuming task. However, all-too-often, something stands out that make one sit up, set the coffee cup down, and start digging a little deeper. Such is the case of the Machinists' union and its "pet charity" the Guide Dogs of America.
According to its website, the Guide Dogs of America:
...provides guide dogs and instruction in their use, free of charge, to blind and visually impaired men and women from the United States and Canada.
That certainly is a noble cause and one in which union members (and non-members) should be lauded for when they give to the "charity" generously and voluntarily.
Such would be the case when Machinists Disctrict Lodge 751 (which represents 30,000 members at Boeing's massive facilities in Puget Sound) gets positive press for the $299,000 donation given to Guide Dogs of America.
The $299,000 donation represents a one-year fundraising total for District 751, which is Guide Dogs of America's top fund-raiser across North America.
The union raised the money through voluntary payroll deductions and through community fundraisers that included a drag-racing event co-sponsored with Pacific Raceways in Kent. Other events included a benefit poker tournament, a golf tournament, a fun run, a car show, a horseshoes tournament, a motorcycle poker run and prize drawings.
As stated above: Laudable.
However, when it comes to voluntary donations, one is left to wonder if those giving their money voluntarily know that they are also paying $217,844 for the Guide Dogs of America President Dale Hartford's compensation involuntarily through their union dues.
Puget Sound is located in the state of Washington. Washington is not a Right-to-Work state which means that the Machinists union collects union dues through its members through a union-security clause which requires union dues or fees as a condition of employment. Boeing's Puget Sound union workers either pay the union...or they are fired.
Of the union dues paid to the Machinists union in Puget Sound, the District Lodge sends a portion of those dues and fees to the union's headquarters.
According to the financial reports the International Association of Machinists file with the Department of Labor, among the pilot and co-pilot used to fly the union's president around in the union jet, as well as the maids, housekeepers, and groundskeepers the union employs at its headquarters/golf resort/training center, the union also employs Dale Hartford, president of Guide Dogs of America--paying him $217,844 in 2011.
That's on top of the $54,017 the union gave the charity in contributions in 2011.
All of which was paid through the revenue taken from members' dues and fees--under the threat of termination due to the union's contract mandating payment.
While giving to a charity is laudable and the Puget Sound members should be lauded for their voluntary giving to the Guide Dogs of America. Do they actually know their dues are also used to fund the salary of the charity's president as well?
"Truth isn't mean. It's Truth."
Andrew Breitbart (1969-2011)
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