Alma Hernández, executive director of SEIU California, which represents more than 700,000 public employees across the state, has been charged by the state Attorney General’s Office with multiple counts of tax fraud, embezzlement, perjury and failure to pay unemployment insurance taxes, the Sacramento Bee reported Wednesday afternoon.
Timothy Snowball, a California litigation attorney with the Freedom Foundation, said in a Globe interview Wednesday he hopes SEIU members will look at this case and see the corruption in the union.
“This fraud and corruption, even at the highest levels, comes as no surprise to the Freedom Foundation,” Snowball said. “These public unions go out and advertise for members. Then they get people to sign membership cards – many not even aware of the money coming out of their checks – and then spend that money on political efforts including acting as primary funders of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recent recall survival campaign.”
Freedom Foundation, a national government watchdog organization that encourages public workers to exercise their First Amendment rights to refuse to pay for the political speech of government unions, has worked for years to thwart the SEIU California, Snowball said. “The corruption is no surprise to us.”
“We’ve been educating members about the ways the union is abusing their constitutional rights and spending their money on illicit activities – Now it’s clear the problem was worse than anyone knew,” Snowball said.
By helping to shine a light on SEIU California’s lawless actions, the Freedom Foundation has helped nearly 15,000 former members end their deductions so they can decide for themselves how their money should be spent. That’s nearly $12 million annually that SEIU California leaders will no longer have to fund their political agenda and lavish lifestyles, Freedom Foundation says.
“SEIU is a pseudo arm of the state, pretending to be a labor organization,” Snowball said. “They are really a political organization, and want to have their fingers in every pie in the state.”
Snowball and Freedom Foundation educate SEIU members about Janus v. AFSCME, in which the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 affirmed that unions could no longer take nonmembers money without their consent. The ruling also specified that by agreeing to give money to a public labor union, workers are waiving their First Amendment right against compelled speech.
In Janus v. AFSCME, the Freedom Foundation explains: “Imagine you started a new job and were informed by your employer the law required a certain amount of your pay deducted and given to a third-party employee representation organization whose values and tactics you abhorred. Still, you were told you could either become a member and pay full dues or opt out of membership but still pay an “agency fee” amounting to about 95 percent of what you were paying to start with.”
“If this hypothetical was presented in any context other than a public labor union, we’d call this ‘choice’ what it very plainly was — a shakedown.”
The charges against Hernández are only the latest evidence that the leaders of government unions like SEIU California are more interested in lining their own pockets than with advocating for their members, who now must decide whether they are willing to continue paying into such an inherently corrupt scheme. “This has probably been going on for years,” Snowball said. “Now she’s finished.”
Snowball wants to know what it will take for SEIU members to look at the Hernández fraud and embezzlement case and ask, “What is going on?”
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