“Big labor”?

compiled & edited by Daniel Hagadorn

Money talks and BS runs the marathon, so unions get to talk to a lot of politicians (who are usually running for something).

In reviewing the “Top 100 All-Time Donors, 1989-2010″, it is interesting to note that several of the top donors are unions. [1]

Just follow the money… [2] [3]

  • No. 3…American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees contributed $43,026,461 to political candidates (98% to Democrats and 1% to Republicans).
  • No. 6…International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers contributed $32,685,295 to political candidates (97% to Democrats and 2% to Republicans).
  • No. 8…National Education Association contributed $31,114,380 to political candidates (93% to Democrats and 6% to Republicans).
  • No. 9…Laborers Union contributed $29,816,800 to political candidates (92% to Democrats and 7% to Republicans).
  • No. 10…Carpenters & Joiners Union  contributed $28,945,308 to political candidates (89% to Democrats and 10% to Republicans).
  • No. 11…Service Employees International Union contributed $28,889,882 to political candidates (95% to Democrats and 3% to Republicans).
  • No. 12…Teamsters Union contributed $28,876,759 to political candidates (93% to Democrats and 7% to Republicans).
  • No. 13…American Federation of Teachers contributed $28,224,891 to political candidates (98% to Democrats and 0% to Republicans).
  • No. 14…Communications Workers of America contributed $27,958,106 to political candidates (98% to Democrats and 0% to Republicans).
  • No. 17…United Auto Workers contributed $26,509,902 to political candidates (98% to Democrats and 0% to Republicans).
  • No. 18…Machinists & Aerospace Workers Union contributed $26,151,277 to political candidates (98% to Democrats and 0% to Republicans).
  • No. 21…United Food & Commercial Workers Union contributed $24,975,233 to political candidates (98% to Democrats and 1% to Republicans).
  • No. 29…National Association of Letter Carriers contributed $20,266,434 to political candidates (88% to Democrats and 11% to Republicans).
  • No. 35…AFL-CIO contributed $18,461,496 to political candidates (95% to Democrats and 5% to Republicans).
  • No. 42…Sheet Metal Workers Union contributed $17,598,563 to political candidates (97% to Democrats and 3% to Republicans).
  • No. 43…Plumbers & Pipefitters Union contributed $17,315,226 to political candidates (95% to Democrats and 5% to Republicans).
  • No. 46…International Association of Fire Fighters contributed $17,177,743 to political candidates (82% to Democrats and 18% to Republicans).
  • No. 48…Operating Engineers Union  contributed $16,493,973 to political candidates (86% to Democrats and 14% to Republicans).
  • No. 49…Air Line Pilots Association contributed $16,418,697 to political candidates (84% to Democrats and 16% to Republicans).
  • No. 57…United Steelworkers contributed $14,425,401 to political candidates (99% to Democrats and 0% to Republicans).
  • No. 59…United Transportation Union contributed $14,170,710 to political candidates (89% to Democrats and 11% to Republicans).
  • No. 60…Ironworkers Union contributed $14,031,575 to political candidates (93% to Democrats and 7% to Republicans).
  • No. 68…American Postal Workers Union contributed $12,627,473 to political candidates (96% to Democrats and 4% to Republicans).
  • No. 74…National Air Traffic Controllers Association contributed $11,286,088 to political candidates (81% to Democrats and 19% to Republicans).

These contributions often come through the following two sources…

  • (1) Political Action Committee (PAC) — A private group, regardless of size, organized to elect political candidates or to advance the outcome of a political issue or legislation. Legally, what constitutes a “PAC” for purposes of regulation is a matter of state and federal law. Under the Federal Election Campaign Act, an organization becomes a “political committee” by receiving contributions or making expenditures in excess of $1,000 for the purpose of influencing a federal election.
  • (2) 527 Group — Tax-exempt organizations that engage in political activities, often through unlimited soft money contributions. Most 527s on this list are advocacy groups trying to influence federal elections through voter mobilization efforts and so-called issue ads that tout or criticize a candidate’s record. 527s must report their contributors and expenditures to the IRS, unless they already file identical information at the state or local level.

In summary…[4]

From 1990 to 2010, individuals and labor union 527′s contributed a combined $101,087,543 to political campaigns and/or candidates. Contributors included:

  • Public Sector Unions = $34,492,810
  • Miscellaneous Union = $22,212,537
  • Industrial Unions = 20,192,194
  • Building Trade Unions = $19,571,071
  • Transportation Unions = $4,618,931

From 1990 to 2010, labor union PAC’s contributed $612,912,543 to political campaigns and/or candidates. Contributors included:

  • Public Sector Unions = $158,777,275
  • Transportation Unions = $137,406,532
  • Industrial Unions = $129,880,372
  • Building Trade Unions = $124,404,502
  • Miscellaneous Unions = $62,444,236

From 1990 to 2010, individuals, labor union 527′s, and labor union PAC’s contributed a combined $714,000,460 to political campaigns and/or candidates. Of those contributions, $658,308,424 (92%) went to Democrats, while $55,692,036 (8%) went to Republicans. Contributors included:

  • Public Sector Unions = $193,270,085
  • Industrial Unions = $150,072,566
  • Building Trade Unions = $143,975,573
  • Transportation Unions = $142,025,63
  • Miscellaneous Unions = $84,656,773

So what does $714 million buy these days?

Apparently, that money buys considerable political access…

According to the Las Vegas Sun, Andy Stern, former president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) [5] and current member of Obama’s bipartisan deficit-reduction commission boasted, “We spent a fortune to elect Barack Obama—$60.7 million to be exact—and we’re proud of it.” [6]

Stern likewise believes that the political access he bought was well worth the investment…

The Los Angeles Times revealed that Andy Stern, “has enjoyed considerable entree to the new administration—starting on Inauguration Day, when he joined Obama and the new president’s family on the reviewing stand outside the White House to watch the inaugural parade.”

“Stern estimates he visits the White House once a week. SEIU officials talk to senior Obama advisor Nancy-Ann DeParle about healthcare–a top priority for Stern–and to Obama aide Cecilia Munoz about immigration, Stern said.”

” ‘We get heard,’ Stern said.” [7]

Unfortunately, the political influence of unions has exploded in recent years…

As reported by The Washington Post, under Andy Stern’s tenure the number of government union members surpassed the number of private sector union members for the first time in our nation’s history. There are two reasons behind this: [8]

  • (1) Unions kill private sector jobs, and unionized companies earn profits 15% lower than those of comparable non-union firms. This causes unionized firms to become LESS competitive, which is why unionized manufacturing jobs DECLINED 75% between 1977 and 2008, while non-union manufacturing INCREASED 6% during the same period.
  • (2) Government union jobs have NO competition. Public sector unionization greatly expanded during the past decade as union leaders realized that politics was far more lucrative than the free market. Under Andy Stern’s leadership, SEIU became the nation’s second largest government union with over half of its membership drawing a paycheck financed by taxpayers.

Explaining how organized labor actually works, Justice Richard Posner of the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals wrote:

  • “The goal of unions is to redistribute wealth from the owners and managers of firms, and from workers willing to work for very low wages, to the unionized workers and the union’s officers… Unions, in other words, are worker cartels… There is also a long history of union corruption. And some union activity is extortionate: the union and the employer tacitly agree that as long as the employer gives the workers a wage increase slightly above the union dues, the union will leave the employer alone.” [9]

Since the majority of all union members are now employed by the federal government, public sector unions no longer redistribute wealth from corporations to union members. They have eliminated middle-man and are now extorting money directly from the U.S. taxpayer. [10]


[1] Center for Responsive Politics. http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/list.php?order=A.

[2] Center for Responsive Politics. http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/sector.php?txt=P01&cycle=2010.

[3] Center for Responsive Politics. http://www.opensecrets.org/527s/527contribs.php.

[4] http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/totals.php?cycle=2010&ind=P.

[5] The fastest growing labor union in the United States, the SEIU represents 1.8 million members in over 100 occupations in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico and focuses on organizing workers in three sectors: health care, public services (local and state government employees), and property services (including janitors, security officers and food service workers).

[6] Michael Mishak, “Unplugged: The SEIU chief on the labor movement and the card check”, Las Vegas Sun (10 May 2009).

[7] Peter Nicholas, “Obama’s curiously close labor friendship”, Los Angeles Times (28 June 2009).

[8] Conn Carroll, “Morning Bell: Andy Stern’s America”, The Heritage Foundation (13 April 2010).

[9] Robert Owens, “Government funded front groups abound in Obama’s transformed America”, Village News (12 May 2010).

[10] Conn Carroll, “Morning Bell: Andy Stern’s America”, The Heritage Foundation (13 April 2010).

3 Responses

  1. Great blog , thanks for the post!

  2. Love your site man keep up the good work

  3. I am a bit confused…but if you would like to link something on your site to one of my posts, I certainly would not object.

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