EPMU pays up

The Herald reports:

The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union has donated $60,000 to the Labour Party and $15,000 to the Green Party, the union announced this morning.

This is no surprise. They get to vote on the Labour Party Leader, so of course they’ll donate to Labour. Interesting they donate also to the Greens.

Of course this is the small part of their actual effective donation. The most valuable donation they make is staff time. Pretty much all their staff can take as much paid time as they want to campaign for Labour (or Greens or Mana). This adds up to a huge contribution.

Let’s say 70 staff spend half their working week for three months campaigning for Labour. Assume they are paying above the living wage and get $30 an hour. 260 hours is $7,800 per staffer and that is around $550,000 of donated wages. However it doesn’t have to be declared as a donation as it is up to each staffer if they campaign for Labour or not. They just have an employer who will give them as much paid time off as they want to do so.

Personally I think when unions bulk supply staff to campaign for a political party, it should count as both an expense and a donation. There is a difference between someone individually volunteering to campaign for a party in their spare time, and someone being effectively paid by a union to go off and campaign for a party.

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