Big labor pumped more than $1.7 billion into political campaigns ahead of the November 2016 elections, according to a new report released Monday.
Labor unions spent $1,713,431,276 on political expenditures during the 2015 and 2016 reporting periods according to data collected by the National Institute for Labor Relations Research. The Institute compiled information from the U.S. Labor Departments’s labor organization financial disclosure requirements and publicly available PAC expense reports that can be found on watchdog websites like OpenSecrets.org.
The report revealed that union treasury funds accounted for 75 percent of the $1.7 billion total. Labor union officials report the amount of expenditures allocated for “political activities and lobbying” on an annual basis to the U.S. Department of Labor, and reported $578 million in political spending in 2015 and $713 million in 2016. The Institute also revealed that public unions spent $229.5 million during the 2016 election cycle, and revealed that labor-backed federal Political Action Committees (PACs) spent $58.3 million during the cycle.
Big Labor bosses lined up behind Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton early in the 2016 cycle, despite rank and file support for insurgent primary challenger, Socialist Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Republican candidate Donald Trump. (RELATED: National Union Bosses Ignore Member Support For Trump, Line Up Behind Clinton)
The support for Clinton was immense, including endorsements from some of the nations largest unions with the deepest pockets. For example, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) spent $61 million on political activities and lobbying in 2016, and an additional $19 million on the Fight for $15 movement.
The powerful SEIU, with over two million members nationwide, has been forced to cut staff inside its Washington, D.C. headquarters following the massive expenditures leading up to November 2016. (RELATED: Collective Hemorrhaging – SEIU Forced To Cut Staff Following Massive Political Spending)
“The spending numbers do not surprise us, in fact organized union officials have to be involved in the political process because thats where their power is granted,” Mark Mix, the president of the National Right to Work Committee and the National Right to Work Foundation, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “It is the federal law and various state laws that allow them to compel workers to pay dues or fees to get or even keep a job,” Mix continued, explaining that organized union must be involved so aggressively with the political process.
“What the government grants, the government can also take away,” Mix said, alluding to the fears of big labor. States continue to implement “right-to-work” legislation, with Kentucky and Missouri recently joining states with right-to-work laws on the books.
While Clinton received more union household votes than Trump, The New York Republican billionaire received almost 10 percent support among union households than Mitt Romney did in 2012.
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