Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Democrats’ Labor Piggybank Returns

This summer, organized labor went out of its way to say it was no longer beholden to the Democratic Party’s agenda. But the checks coming in now show that the Democrats and labor never really broke up.

The Hill reports that at least nine labor unions have donated to President Obama’s second inauguration, which took place today. Those ponying up include:

  • American Federation of Government Employees
  • American Postal Workers Union
  • International Association of Fire Fighters
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
  • International Union of Painters and Allied Trades
  • Laborers International Union of North America
  • Sheet Metal Workers International Association
  • United Association
  • United Food & Commercial Workers

If you had been paying attention to labor’s pronouncements in August, you might be confused by the last-minute donations. Labor made it clear that it planned not to donate to the Democrats’ Charlotte convention and even staged its own “shadow convention” in Philadelphia. Nonetheless, when the clarion call went out that funding for the inauguration was coming up short, labor delivered. The Democrats’ reliable piggybank of organized labor is back.

But this should not come as a surprise. Labor cutting off its support for the convention and having its own gathering in Philadelphia was no more than an “expensive temper tantrum.” Unions still hosted “Hug-a-Union-Thug” events in Charlotte. They also had a presence at many of the other related events there. In turn, the DNC chair made at an appearance at the Philadelphia event. And all of labor’s political efforts in 2012, though officially “independent” of the Democratic Party, were almost exclusively in support of Barack Obama and other Democrats.

Even before the country made it official today, labor unions had already started pushing their agenda for the second term. Leaders injected themselves into the budget debate, putting Obama in “listening mode” at the White House while union leaders told him what to do on the fiscal cliff deal. Not surprisingly, Obama was quick to support Michigan labor unions in their failed attempt to stop the state from becoming number 24 on the right-to-work list.

Labor’s donations to the inauguration show that what some might have believed was a full-blown divorce between labor and the Democratic Party was no more than unions telling the Dems to sleep on the couch.

Categories: Center for Union FactsPolitical Money