Union Members Have Traditionally Supported Democrats, But This Poll Shows A Dramatic Shift


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Tim Pearce Energy Reporter
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Self-identified union members are just as likely to support a Republican for office as a Democrat, according to polling data released by Pew Research Center Monday.

Pew studied the likelihood that Democrat and Republican supporters would identify with certain labels, such as “have traditional values” and “veterans.” Ten percent of people who support each party self-identified as “union members.” (RELATED: Democrats Make Millions More Off Federal Unions, Bureaucrats Than Republicans)

Partisan differences in self-described identities and affiliations

The largest partisan split came between people who self-identified as “supporter of the NRA.” Of those, 79 percent of Republican supporters said the term described them versus 12 percent of Democrat supporters. Self-described “feminists” — the next most-partisan category — split the other way, with 60 percent of Democrat backers accepting the label to just 14 percent of GOP supporters.

While union members seem to be equally divided between the two parties, the labor organizations they identify with are not. A dozen of the top 25 outside organizations donating to political candidates and causes ahead of the 2018 midterms are labor unions, and each union’s donations overwhelmingly favor Democrats and liberal causes, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Each of the 12 unions gave between 93 percent to 100 percent of their donations to Democrat candidates and left-leaning causes.

The Supreme Court cut into the revenue of public-sector unions in June, ruling “agency fees” — mandatory dues to public-sector unions as a prerequisite for working a government job — unconstitutional. The ruling affected roughly 5 million workers nationwide, giving them the option of opting out of union representation. The potential impact of the case could shrink union revenue by millions.

Unions may lose millions more in court cases that have since been filed over the mandatory dues.

The June ruling effectively made every state a public-sector right-to-work state. Twenty-eight states have adopted right-to-work laws that cover the private sector, as well.

Unions often oppose such laws because they allow workers to take advantage of union representation and union-negotiated benefits without paying union fees.

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