January 2, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Washington, DC – Expecting that anti-union measures will deplete its membership and resources, the Service Employees International Union is planning to cut its budget by 30% over the next year, according to an internal memo obtained by Bloomberg Businessweek.
“Because the far right will control all three branches of the federal government, we will face serious threats to the ability of working people to join together in unions,” President Mary Kay Henry wrote in the Dec. 14 message to all staff. “These threats require us to make tough decisions that allow us to resist these attacks and to fight forward despite dramatically reduced resources.” The union represents nearly 2 million government, health-care, and building-services workers, and has been the main backer of the “Fight for $15” campaign. However, it has not gained a significant amount of dues-paying members among the low-wage workers in that campaign, and legislation or court decisions ending the union shop for public employees could also reduce membership, as happened after Michigan eliminated collective bargaining for home health aides in 2012. The memo said the union needs to position itself “to take on the forthcoming attacks, absorb the short-term losses, and strengthen ourselves to win big in the future.” Read more