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Latest News - March 2014

March 26, 2014
Union Fights to Keep Political cash advantage
Source: Labor Pains

Unions used to be the leading source of organizational political contributions. A quick look at the Opensecrets list of “heavy hitters”—the top outside donors since 1989—shows that of the top 15 donor organizations, 10 are still labor unions. And Opensecrets only counts federal PAC contributions (which are opt-in); unions also maintain sophisticated state- and local-level political operations funded (at least in part) with general dues money. Unfortunately for union members, these contributions can only be avoided through a complicated, opt-out process that varies by state and union. The Employee Rights Act, a proposed federal legislation, would require that all union political spending be opt-in, a policy supported by 83 percent of union households in recent national polling.

Citizens United v. FEC changedthe restrictions. Now, unions, nonprofits (within limits), and for-profit companies have the same rights to speak about politicians and political issues in election season as individuals, meaning unions can use dues money to make “un-coordinated independent expenditures” that weigh in on elections without input from particular candidates’ campaigns. In unions’ case, this allows them to spend even more money pushing the union leaderships’ preferred candidates, even though exit polls show that roughly 40 percent of union members vote Republican at the federal level nationwide, while the overwhelming amount of union donations go to Democrats.

But rather than enjoying their new privileges, unions (and liberal “watchdog” organizations they fund) are annoyed that business-friendly groups are also able to play the game. Unions’ solution? If reports from a meeting between New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and labor unions that support the left-wing Working Families Party (which typically backs union-friendly Democrats under New York State’s rare multiple-ballot-line candidacy system) are accurate, their proposal is “public campaign financing.”

And how might that benefit unions? An op-ed in The Wall Street Journal illustrates how unions manipulate the decisions of New York City’s Campaign Finance Board through political favor trades and get help from “questionable” rulings:




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