US Capitol West Side by Martin Falbisoner is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

House Education & Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) sent letters to three union bosses demanding answers on their attempts to influence shareholder meetings.

The letters from Chairwoman Foxx published on Wednesday were sent to Teamsters President Sean O’Brien, AFL-CIO President Elizabeth Shuler, and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) President Mary Kay Henry. The letters informed the union bosses of a new committee investigation into “shareholder activism activities that involve assets held by union pension plans, the impact on the value of the pension plan investments, and the expenses incurred by the plans in pursuit of these activities.”

The letters also requested answers to a series of 15 questions, including how each union influences shareholder meetings and proxy voting; how much money is spent on such activities; how union members have a say in the shareholder proposals which are pursued; and whether the unions use shareholder meetings as a way to pressure companies into greater acceptance of organizing campaigns.

The unions were given a deadline of June 12th to respond to the committee’s questions.

In addition to the noted potential for labor unions to influence organizing campaigns through shareholder meetings, unions have also waded into the realm of ESG-related shareholder proposals. A 2023 Harvard Law report remarked that unions have “continued to submit and/or support a meaningful number of proposals this year, primarily proposals on racial equity audits and political spending disclosure” and that the SEIU has been particularly involved in those efforts. The report also cites a number of proposals by the Teamsters regarding the “transition to a low-carbon economy” and its impact on workers.

“Pension funds and unions are coercing American companies to adopt ESG-related policies,” wrote Bryan Bashur, Director of Financial Policy at Americans for Tax Reform, in a recent op-ed.

Big Labor bosses use their outsized influence to pursue political goals and their own interests, often without the consent of their members. Workers deserve to know how their union dues are being used by union leaders, especially when studies have shown that 94 percent of union members did not even vote to join the union to which they belong.

The mismanagement of union pensions has also led to massive taxpayer-funded bailouts, as noted in a separate report released Wednesday by Senator Bill Cassidy (R-La.). In 2021 alone, President Biden and congressional Democrats spent $86 billion of taxpayer funds to bail out union pension funds. Union leaders must provide transparency to taxpayers about whether they are putting politics above fiduciary duty.

Chairwoman Foxx’s investigation is a crucial step to discovering the truth about union pension-related activities and protecting workers and taxpayers from abuse.