The Obama Administration has rewarded its big labor allies with lucrative federal grants, including millions of dollars to help them strengthen unions in Iraq, according to documents obtained by Judicial Watch.
The information comes straight from government records gathered in the course of a lengthy JW investigation into the administration’s tight relationship with the nation’s powerful labor movement. Since Obama moved to the White House federal funding for big labor has skyrocketed to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.
A chunk of the money is being funneled to unions so they can increase labor organization around the globe, the records show. In most cases the American taxpayer dollars are going to leftist groups in the developing world. For instance, the American Center for International Labor Solidarity has received nearly $3 million to strengthen labor unions in Iraq. The group is the international arm of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the nation’s largest federation of unions representing 12 million workers.
The AFL-CIO offshoot also got a chunk of change from Uncle Sam for various other causes. For example, it raked in an additional $2.5 million for “labor outreach” last year and $1.2 million from the State Department to combat human trafficking in Asia. Earlier this year the group got an additional $721,310 for more labor outreach. This brings the total amount of federal grants awarded to the Solidary Center to $71,652,403, the records show. JW compiled a spreadsheet of all the transactions.
The Solidarity Center is run by politically-connected figures in the labor movement. Former AFL-CIO President John Sweeny is chairman of the board, former AFL-CIO executive councilman William Lucy is vice chairman and current AFL-CIO President Dick Trumka is the secretary and treasurer. The center was founded in 1997, but didn’t receive federal assistance till a decade later.
Under Obama the government cash has flowed generously with most of the money coming from the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), created by President John Kennedy in 1961 to provide humanitarian assistance around the world. In fiscal year 2011 (the latest available stats) the Solidarity Center got north of $14 million, which is roughly half of its annual budget in 2009 and 2010. All the grants were rewarded to help increase labor organizations around the world.
Additionally, JW found that the National Labor College, which bills itself as “the nation’s only accredited higher education institution devoted exclusively to educating union members, leaders and staff,” has received nearly $3 million in federal grants since 2009. This includes a $1.1 million emergency preparedness grant from the Department of Transportation earlier this year. Of interesting note is that AFL-CIO President Dick Trumka, who serves as secretary and treasurer of the Solidarity Center, is the chairman of the college’s board of directors.
Big labor’s boost in federal funding is strangely similar to the surge experienced by the open borders movement under Obama. The National Council of La Raza (NCLR) has also seen its federal funding soar since one of its top officials, senior vice president Cecilia Muñoz, got a job in the Obama White House. Last year a JW investigation uncovered documents that show the government cash more than doubled the year Muñoz joined the White House, from $4.1 million to $11 million.