The social physiognomy of an American trade union executive: The case of Connor M. Lewis

A trade union bureaucrat named Connor M. Lewis attacked the World Socialist Web Site earlier this week in response to Mack Trucks autoworker Will Lehman’s nomination for UAW president at the union’s recent convention in Detroit. WSWS writer Eric London responded with a Twitter thread that we republish below:

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Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) official Connor M. Lewis has attacked the World Socialist Web Site and Socialist Equality Party, and it’s worth looking at where this attack comes from. He is a case study in the social physiognomy of the American trade union apparatus. What is the source of the extreme hostility to the WSWS/SEP?

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Lewis is a parasite who is enriching himself on workers’ dues. He first attempted to get a Ph.D. but soon left academia and decided to make a more lucrative career as a union bureaucrat. He started when grad students attempted to unionize at Penn State University, making just $41,778 in 2017.

But then his pay began to skyrocket. His salary doubled to $99,470 in 2018, went to $127,075 in 2019 and then $138,326 in 2020, the last year for which information is available. In total, he made a whopping $405,649 in just four years.

Connor M. Lewis’ union salary over time (paid for by workers’ dues) [Photo: WSWS]

According to the PSEA’s federal filings, each teacher pays $553 in dues. This means it took the dues of 733 teachers to pay Lewis’ bloated salary from 2017-2020. This is a staggering degree of exploitation which allows Lewis to live in the top 10 percent while teachers risk their lives every day.

The PSEA is hated by rank-and-file teachers for its role in forcing teachers back to school during the pandemic on behalf of Pennsylvania’s Democratic Governor Tom Wolf. One teacher and PSEA member told the WSWS, “The PSEA president and all their minions totally dropped the ball. They’re going along with whatever Wolf and the districts say. They aren’t working to protect the teachers and students. When you file a grievance and ask about it, PSEA tells you that you aren’t following the ‘chain of command.’ That is just code words for ‘I don’t want to be bothered.’”

Union executives like Lewis are essentially Democratic Party staff whose salaries are paid by workers’ dues. Looking at his Twitter, Lewis regularly promotes Democratic politicians, including most recently Andy Levin, who just voted for $40 million for the Ukraine military in the US-NATO war against Russia.

The PSEA has donated tens of millions of dollars to capitalist parties in recent years, including $16.3 million to the Democrats and $3.7 million to the Republicans! In 2018, it gave $1.6 million to Wolf, the pro-corporate governor whose deadly “back to work/school” policy the PSEA has implemented.

The PSEA has given millions to Democrats and Republicans. [Photo by]

The PSEA also gave $813,000 to Wolf in 2014, over $1 million to right-wing Clinton backer and former Democratic Senator Ed Rendell and $275,000 to former Democratic Senator Bob Casey. It even funded the 2018 campaign of pro-Trump legislator Jacob Corman III, who supported a Trump-inspired audit of the 2020 election!

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