Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Unions Doubling Down in 2012 Election

We’ve written previously on how much money labor unions are raising to compete in local, state and national elections this presidential cycle, but now we have a better idea of how much unions are planning to spend to maintain their political clout – $400 million.

“People are digging deeper,” Larry Scanlon, political director of the country’s largest public workers union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, told the Associated Press. “If Republicans take over the presidency, Congress and enough state legislatures, unions will be out of business, pure and simple.”

What Scanlon should have said is that unions are digging deeper into their members’ paychecks to fund their counter-assault on labor reform.

While labor leaders may be tapping their own bank accounts, a substantial amount of union political cash will come from hard-working, dues-paying members.

Last year, at the National Education Association’s annual convention, delegates passed a motion to assess a $10 per member fee to fund the union’s “Ballot Measure/Legislative Crisis Fund.”

In 2010, exit polls showed that 42 percent of union households voted for Republican candidates, but over 93 percent of union political support went to Democratic candidates.

Terry Bowman, a member of the United Auto Workers union, testified before the House Oversight Committee about union leaders taking his dues to fund political candidates he doesn’t support and policy positions he doesn’t share.


Considering that unions spent over $40 million last year to repeal an Ohio law that restricted collective bargaining rights and to recall Wisconsin lawmakers who backed a similar measure in their state, the financial toll on individual union members has not been insubstantial.

In addition to general election spending, unions are pouring millions more into Wisconsin for yet another recall election, this time to oust Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

“Part of the Republican strategy is to try to bleed us,” Mike Podhorzer, political director of the AFL-CIO, told the Associated Press.

One wonders how much unions can bleed their membership before workers fight back.

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