Union workers are being forced to “dig deeper” to help elect President Obama. The Associated Press reports that big labor will spend over $400 million in the effort. Of course, that is only the reportable expenses. We expect big labor will spend well over $1 billion nationally this campaign season — most of which will come from the pocket of union workers who have no say on how their dues money is spent.
“People are digging deeper,” said Larry Scanlon, political director of the country’s largest public workers union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. “If Republicans take over the presidency, Congress and enough state legislatures, unions will be out of business, pure and simple.”
Scanlon’s union was the biggest overall spender in the 2010 midterm elections, doling out about $93 million to help state and federal candidates, mostly Democrats. This year, AFSCME is expected to spend at least $100 million or more on political action, including television advertising, phone banks and member canvassing. The effort is to help the president, Democrats running for the House and Senate, gubernatorial candidates and key state lawmakers.
With increased spending planned by other labor groups, including the powerful Service Employees International Union and the AFL-CIO, unions are likely to top the $400 million they spent to help elect Obama four years ago.
Not all union expenditures on political action are publicly disclosed, so some numbers are based on self-reporting. But unions have long been known as one of the most reliable supporters of Democratic candidates and their efforts have increased with every election as the threats to organized labor grow.
Unions already spent more than $40 million last year to successfully repeal an Ohio law that restricted collective bargaining rights and to recall lawmakers who backed a similar measure in Wisconsin. They are spending millions more in a bid to recall Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who led the charge to curb public employee union rights as a way to balance the state’s budget.