A surprising source has confirmed, unimpeachably, that Big Labor spends more than a billion dollars on politics and lobbying per federal campaign cycle.
National Right to Work Committee members have for years known this to be true.
But poor-mouthing union officials and supposedly nonpartisan monitors of political spending like the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) continue even today to foster a false impression that Big Labor spends less on electioneering and lobbying than Big Business.
Unfortunately for the union bosses and their apologists, the very LM-2 forms that private-sector (and some government-sector) unions with annual revenues exceeding $250,000 are required to file with the U.S. Labor Department show unambiguously they control by far the most massive political machine in America.
Reported Union PAC Spending Only Tip of the Iceberg
In 2003, then-President George W. Bush’s Labor Department revised these disclosure forms with the avowed goal of helping the millions of private-sector workers who are forced to pay union dues or fees as a job condition get a better idea of where there conscripted money was going.
This was a worthwhile initiative. Current labor laws, as interpreted by federal courts, unjustly authorize the firing of employees for refusal to pay for unwanted union monopoly bargaining, unless the employees are protected by a state Right to Work law.
But the U.S. Supreme Court, in precedents argued and won by National Right to Work Foundation attorneys, has made it clear time and again that employees may not legally be forced to pay for non-bargaining activities — regardless of where they live.
Unfortunately, in a misguided and futile attempt to appease the union brass, Bush officials failed to require union reports to strictly segregate all bargaining and non-bargaining activities in the revised LM-2’s.
Nevertheless, since the LM-2 revision withstood an extended Big Labor legal challenge and took effect, union officials have been required to report each year how much they spend on two major non-bargaining activities — electioneering and lobbying.
And a recent National Right to Work Committee analysis of all LM-2 forms filed for the years 2009 and 2010 shows that unions filing such forms spent a total of $1.14 billion in forced dues-funded union treasury money on “political activities and lobbying” in the 2010 election cycle alone.
That barely exceeded LM-2-filing unions’ combined political and lobbying expenditures of $1.06 billion in the 2008 campaign cycle.
Of course, such forced dues-fueled spending, which pays for phone banks, get-out-the-vote drives, propaganda mailings, and much more, but doesn’t go directly to candidates, far surpasses Big Labor’s reported PAC contributions of $63.7 million in 2009-2010 and $66.4 million in 2007-2008.
During Election Years, AFL-CIO Building Becomes ‘National Party Headquarters’
Big Labor’s “in-kind” political expenditures also far surpass business PAC expenditures. In 2007-2008, for example, the 1036 largest business and association PACs gave a total of $275.5 million to federal candidates, or barely more than a quarter as much as union bosses spent on “in-kind” politics.
“The outsized political spending by union kingpins is nothing new,” noted Committee Vice President Greg Mourad.
“Back in 1976, highly-regarded labor journalist Victor Riesel (now deceased) aptly stated that, in the months preceding federal elections, the AFL-CIO building becomes ‘an instant national party headquarters — easily a match for the national committees of the Democratic and Republican parties . . .’ !
“Moreover, unlike business and other interest group political spending, Big Labor’s ‘in-kind’ expenditures on politics are financed primarily by forced-dues money, often paid by workers who personally oppose the union-boss agenda.
“Congress can and should end this outrage by passing a national Right to Work law prohibiting all forced union dues and fees.”