It would be an understatement to say that public sector unions and state governors, including Democrats, haven’t been getting along as of late. So why are those unions among the biggest donors to the Democratic Governors Association (DGA)?
For the current election cycle, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) tied for ninth place on the DGA’s donor list. If the last election cycle is any indicator, expect to see a few more familiar names by the time November rolls around. In 2010, public sector unions were the top three donors to the DGA, and took up four of the top five spots. With their private-sector counterparts, unions accounted for the top six spots and seven out of the top eight.
One has no problem recalling union battles with Republican governors. The battle in Wisconsin that raged for months pitted thenation’s oldest government employee unions against Governor Scott Walker, who was backed by voters for being willing to stand up for the people and curb out-of-control union demands. Ohio Governor John Kasich spent plenty of political capital to reform collective bargaining, only to have voters turn that on its head after an expensive campaign by unions to roll back this progress. But in nearby Indiana, employee freedoms advanced by leaps and bounds when the state passed a right-to-work law. And Governor Mitch Daniels thinks that reforms have not gone far enough, causing unions to fear for their continued existence in the Hoosier State.
But Democratic governors aren’t exactly getting perfect scores from unions either:
- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2012 budget required serious reforms of government employee contracts and teachers unions, or both would face major cutbacks.
- Unions and Connecticut Governor Daniel Malloy finally agreed to a labor deal last year, but not before members rejected his first proposal. Malloy is trying to make up for that by siding with the SEIU in an ongoing labor dispute.
- Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley can’t seem to figure out whose side he’s on when it comes to union disputes.
- The state workers union in Missouri teed off on Governor Jay Nixon’s proposal to cut back on the state payroll.
- In Governor Jerry Brown’s California (Part 2), it might depend which union you are in: the story is very different for teachersthan it is for the SEIU or unions in bankrupt cities.
Public sector unions are supporting, to the tune of millions of dollars, politicians that don’t always seem to be on their side. And they’re using member’s mandatory dues dollars to do it. Employees might want to take a closer look at how the unions are spending their hard-earned dollars. Because when Democratic politicians can no longer be counted on for support, unionsbosses unfettered political giving looks every day like a worse investment.