Despite the rhetoric that unions do not spend members’ money on politics, the fact is, they do spend a lot of money on politics—directly and indirectly.
While this is partially true—members can, and often do, voluntarily donate money directly to unions’ political action committees, which then use the money to donate to political candidates—there is another side to unions’ political giving that is all-too-often unreported in the media.
The fact is, there is a lot of union dues money that is given to political causes and groups that the members do not give to voluntarily—or, often, do not even know about.
For example, in 2014, three of the nation’s largest unions—the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), and Service Employees International Union (SEIU), contributed $435,000 to the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
Although much of the donations were listed as “political advocacy” on the unions’ financial disclosure forms, “$25,000 given by AFSCME and SEIU were described as ‘grants’ to a ‘tax-exempt organization,'” the Free Beacon noted.
In 2012, the Wall Street Journal found that, over a five year period, political spending by unions far exceeded direct donations.
Previous estimates have focused on labor unions’ filings with federal election officials, which chronicle contributions made directly to federal candidates and union spending in support of candidates for Congress and the White House.
But unions spend far more money on a wider range of political activities, including supporting state and local candidates and deploying what has long been seen as the unions’ most potent political weapon: persuading members to vote as unions want them to.
Indeed, when analyzing the data, the Wall Street Journal found that unions spent $4.4 billion on political activity, far exceeding the $1.1 billion previously though.
More recently, the Center for union facts found that, in addition to the millions given to failed-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, union officials have sent more than $530 million to the Democratic Party and liberal special interest group, even though 40 percent of those in union households vote Republican in any given election cycle.
So, while union advocates may try—sometimes innocently—to falsely claim that union dues are not used on politics, the fact is they are used, both directly (voluntarily) and indirectly (with or without the members’ knowledge.
Union Money in Politics on Scribd