War drums are beating all over the country as Big Labor gears up for the fight to stay relevant in the American political landscape. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka began expanding his political operation last summer with a super PAC for the purposes of funding multi-cycle, issue advocacy as well as get-out-the-vote efforts. The new super PAC, “Workers’ Voices”, has announced its small, yet respectable haul with $3.7 million raised, and $3 million cash on hand.
The battle may be coming to a head in California, where labor organizations are fighting tooth and nail to protect their source of revenue. If a new ballot initiative passes this November, unions would need to get written permission from their members each year to use dues for political purposes.
“This could change the balance of power long after the governor’s taxes are expired,” said Thad Kousser, a political-science professor at UC San Diego. “Defeating this has got to be the top goal of labor. If they don’t, they could become almost extinct in California politics.”
At this point, unions are desperately looking for a win. Today, as thousands of protesters packed hallways and shouted their disapproval, the Indiana Senate voted 28-22 to pass a right to work bill. The bill will now go to Gov. Mitch Daniels for his signature.
On a national level, there is legislation with a similar provision. The Employee Rights Act, sponsored by U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and U.S. Representative Tim Scott (R-SC) contains a measure that would give employees the right to require unions to get their approval before dues money is spent on behalf of political parties or political candidates.
It should be noted; exit polling from 2010 by shows that 42 percent of union households voted for Republican candidates, yet more than 93 percent of union political support went to Democratic candidates. There is a serious disconnect between Big Labor’s political agenda and the personal ideology of its members.