Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Big Labor’s $420 Million Political Advocacy Budget

shutterstock_157245110Labor unions overwhelming support Democrats and closely aligned left-wing causes—it’s been a fact of life for decades. But the extent of it is downright startling: From 2012 to 2014, Big Labor sent nearly $420 million to hundreds of special interests, think tanks, party committees, pro-labor organizations, and political candidates closely aligned with the Democratic Party.

Recipients included left-wing publications such as The Nation and In These Times to American Bridge 21st Century—an anti-Republican Super PAC run by Hillary Clinton ally David Brock—and Democracy Alliance, a secretive network of liberal donors including George Soros and Tom Steyer among others.

Now, there are two misconceptions about union political spending. The first is that the overwhelming majority of union members vote Democrat, fueling the sentiment of left-leaning union bosses. In reality, roughly 40 percent of union households vote Republican in any given election cycle. The second is that union members already have the choice to opt in before their union decides to spend dues money on politics and lobbying—essentially allowing them to dictate where their member dues go. But under current labor law, that option is only available in the case of Super PAC contributions to political candidates. Big Labor directly spends hundreds of millions of dollars on politics without even using Super PACs—the overwhelming majority of that $420 million figure was derived from such expenditures. And many of them are classified as “Representational Activities,” further misleading those interested enough to look.

When it comes to non-PAC spending, union members are “opted in” by default. Many of them, such as Pennsylvania school bus driver David Shirey, were never even made aware. Hear his story below:

To address this problem, Congress has introduced the Employee Rights Act (ERA), which would require labor organizers to obtain opt-in permission from union members before spending any dues money on politics and lobbying. Employees deserve to know where their money is going—especially when it comes out to $420 million. The ERA would guarantee it.

Categories: Employee Rights ActPolitical MoneyUnion Spending