FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 24, 2019
CONTACT: Ryan Williams
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Unions Spent $2B On Politics In 2018
April 23, 2019
Unions spent more than $2 billion on politics in 2018, according to a study released Tuesday by the nonprofit National Institute for Labor Relations Research.
Union spending was up $300 million from 2016, a presidential election year, indicating that unions are now spending more at the state and local level.
Nearly a quarter of the 2018 spending, $479 billion, went directly to state politics, more than double what the Labor Research group found in the previous election cycle. That finding is based on data from the Labor Department, the Federal Election Commission, and the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics. The amount of state and local spending may actually be higher than reported, the Labor Research group said, due to the fact that unions have limited disclosure requirements in their federal filings and much of the funding may be “heavily misclassified.”
The switch comes as unions are fighting a trend by states to adopt right-to-work laws, which prohibit workers from being forced to either join a union or pay one a regular fee. Four states have adopted the laws since 2013, but a fifth one, Missouri, voted to repel such a law in 2018. The same year, a Supreme Court decision, Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, effectively said that state and local public sector workers are under right-to-work protections. Unions are pushing friendly state legislatures to counter the ruling.
“It’s no surprise that Big Labor unloaded their multi-billion-dollar warchest in the 2018 election cycle to push for candidates willing to grant union bosses enormous privileges in direct opposition to worker freedom,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Union bosses spend employees’ hard-earned money to support political agendas that undermine the rights of the employees they claim to ‘represent.'” The National Institute for Labor Relations Research group is the foundation’s research arm.
AFL-CIO President Trumka said Tuesday at a forum hosted by the Economic Club of Washington D.C. that unions had begin to turn the tide against right-to-work laws by pressing the case against them in key states like Michigan and Wisconsin. “We’ll get those [state laws] both reversed. The last one that happened [to adopt the law] was in Missouri. It was on the ballot and 67 percent of the people who lived in Missouri voted to repel right to work,” he said. Trumka said the unions were also focusing more on state and local level elections, claiming that in the last election unions helped to elect 960 people at various levels of government.
The Labor Research group noted that more than $1.3 billion of the $2 billion spent in 2013 came directly from union treasuries, meaning it was funded directly by workers, through their union dues, who may not have been supportive of this spending. Trumka revealed last year that the AFL-CIO’s own polling showed that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton beat President Trump among union voters 58%-36%, the lowest margin for a Democrat in recent decades. Clinton’s total was 10 percentage points lower than Obama’s in 2012 while Trump exceeded 2012 GOP candidate Mitt Romney by 3 points. This was despite the AFL-CIO and other major unions endorsing Clinton and heavily lobbying their own members to back her.
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