Saying that its actions were “deeply hostile” to public employees and “profound betrayal of the ideals of the civil rights movement,” the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), one of the largest public unions in the country, has ended its relationship with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). The charity’s crime? It accepted a twenty-five million dollar donation from the Koch Brothers and UNCF President Michael Lomax accepted an invitation to speak at a summit hosted by the Kochs in California.
According to Buzzfeed:
Union President Lee Saunders wrote:
AFSCME’s relationship with the UNCF revolved around their Union Scholars Program, in which sophomore- and junior-year college students could work with AFSCME during the summer and receive scholarship support afterward.
That program will cease on Sept. 1.
“We must hold ourselves to the same standards that we promote through the Union Scholars Program,” Saunders wrote. “To practice what we preach, to fight for social justice, and to stand up for what we believe. I cannot in good conscience face these students or AFSCME’s members if I looked the other way and ignored your actions.
UNCF has over 100,000 donors with a wide range of views, but they all have one thing in common: they believe in helping young students of color realize their dreams of a college education. For over 70 years we have never had a litmus test and we have asked all Americans to support our cause.
This year alone, UNCF awarded $100 million in scholarships to more than 12,000 students at 900 schools across the country, yet had to deny 9 out of every 10 qualified applicants due to lack of resources.
While I am saddened by AFSCME’s decision, it will not distract us from our mission of helping thousands of African American students achieve their dream of a college degree and the economic benefits that come with it.”
The donation to UNCF is nothing new for the Kochs. The Charles Koch Foundation has a history of donating to colleges with the goal of increasing diversity.
Of the total funds donated to the UNCF by the Kochs, $18.5 million will be allocated to almost 3,000 merit-based scholarships going to African-American students. The remaining $6.5 million will go toward general support for historically black colleges and universities, and the UNCF.
The truth is if AFSCME really believed in the UNCF cause, they wouldn’t care who else gives them money.
Cross-posted at The Lid