Planned Parenthood and Unions
This article originally appeared in this issue of the WSR: 2016-10-05

As we follow the various activities of Planned Parenthood, it frequently strikes us that very little is new about this organization. In recent weeks, for example, the news media broke a story that Planned Parenthood is teaming up with the AFL-CIO to spend a million dollars or more to influence elections in North Carolina. 

Planned Parenthood partnering with unions is nothing new. In fact, the first person at Planned Parenthood to work closely with unions was none other than Margaret Sanger—the organization’s founder. Sanger’s union alliance began with the Industrial Workers of the World. She wrote in her autobiography: “Our living room became a gathering place where liberals, anarchists, Socialists, and I.W.W.s could meet.” 

Now, 100 years later, Cecile Richards leads Planned Parenthood. Richards is a trustee of the Ford Foundation and her biography on its website states: “Richards began her career organizing low-wage workers in the hotel, health care, and janitorial industries throughout California, Louisiana, and Texas.” It is not too surprising, then, that her husband, Kirk Adams, was, until last year, the longtime healthcare chief for the Service Employees International Union.

Union ties run deep at Planned Parenthood, except when it comes to its own employees. Of Planned Parenthood’s 56 affiliates across the country, only one is unionized. Workers at Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette fought hard to obtain union representation. Even after a contentious vote to unionize in 2011, it took SEIU Local 49 a great deal of effort—and a threatened picket of a PP fundraiser—for the employees to eventually get their first contract with PP management.

Interestingly, while this unionization fight was going on in Oregon, in 2012 and 2013 the Planned Parenthood Federation of America reported in its Federal Form 990s that it paid the SEIU in New York $1.9 million for telemarketing services. 

Over the years, PP has received both financial and verbal support from the unions. When the undercover videos of Planned Parenthood’s baby body parts business were released in July 2015, both Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, and SEIU president Mary Kay Henry jumped to the defense of Planned Parenthood.

We bring all of this to your attention so you can present the facts to every union member you know. Despite what the union bosses say, Planned Parenthood is not interested in its workers. It is only interested in rewarding top management and making lots of money.