Government unions bankrolling Newsom

Chantal Lovell

Communications Director

Chantal Lovell
July 29, 2021

Government unions bankrolling Newsom

Update: Since this article was posted, Gavin Newsom has received additional contributions from unions. The California Professional Firefighters donated just over $500,000 to Newsom’s campaign, the California School Employees Association gave $250,000, and the California Federation of Teachers’ Small Contributor Committee gave $125,000. His total union contributions exceeded $18.3 million as of August 13.

If the thieves who broke into Governor Gavin Newsom’s San Francisco wine shop this week were really looking for a payday, they might have instead targeted his campaign.

According to the most recent contribution report filed by Newsom’s Stop the Republican Recall of Governor Gavin Newsom, the Governor is bringing in a lot of dough, with no small amount coming from public sector unions, raising questions about recent deals and favors doled out by the threatened governor.

Of the nearly $39 million raised by the campaign so far, almost half, $17 million, is from public and private sector unions. Most alarming are the recent high-dollar donations from government unions that, in some cases, appear to be repayment.

The most obvious quid pro quo comes from the state’s prison guards. A mere weeks after Newsom agreed to give guards $5,000 pandemic bonuses, the union representing those workers, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, wrote his campaign a $1.75 million check. The union is among the campaign’s top contributors, and the only to have secured pandemic hazard pay. So far. Their contribution comes despite the Governor shutting down two California prisons, jeopardizing thousands of unionized jobs.

Not to be outdone, the California Teachers Association cut Newsom’s camp a check to the tune of $1.8 million. Their national partner, the American Federation of Teachers, contributed $250,000 to the effort. Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, who is running to replace Newsom in the recall election, posited on Twitter why the teachers unions are so vested in keeping the governor in office. “Teachers unions just funneled Gavin Newsom another $2.1 million. It’s unclear if this is a bonus payment for last year’s shutdown or a prepayment for the one to come,” he wrote.

Throughout the ongoing school closures, parents often wondered why the governor did not mandate a full reopening of schools once data overwhelmingly showed it to be safe. In recent weeks, Newsom has waffled on school reopenings, moving from a strong stance last month that, “a return to full, in-person instruction is what’s best for our students,” to suggesting this week that schools may not reopen unless Californians meet a mysterious vaccination rate threshold.

With the likely favors bestowed upon prison guards and teachers, it’s hard not to question if other unions contributing to Newsom’s campaign are doing so in hopes they too will receive some of California’s largesse. Indeed, the relationship between public employee unions and politicians is one rife for corruption: Unions contribute heavily to and campaign on behalf of politicians, who once elected, become their bosses responsible for determining wages, benefits, and more.

One group of union bosses, those of SEIU 1000, is so eager to keep Newsom in office that they sent him a donation days after their membership voted in a new leader who promised to do the exact opposite. In late May, SEIU 1000 members elected new president Richard Louis Brown, who campaigned on the promise of getting the union out of politics, specifically, not supporting Newsom’s election. Within days of that vote but before Brown was sworn in as the new leader, the union’s board approved a $1 million contribution to help save the governor.

Other major union contributors to the governor include Dignity CA SEIU Local 2015, which gave $2 million; SEIU Committee on Political Education, which gave $1 million; American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, which gave $1 million; and several other SEIU locals, which each gave Newsom $500,000 gifts.

Fortunately, thanks to the 2018 Supreme Court decision in the Janus v. AFSCME case, public employees in California can no longer be forced to pay unions as a condition of employment. If you’re a union worker who doesn’t like funding political causes, visit to learn how to drop union membership and take back control of your hard-earned dollars.

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