Big Labor Political Spending Topped $2B for 2018 Election Cycle

2018 midterm election spending increased by $300M over 2016 general election….

Photo by K. Kendall

(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) In spite of—or perhaps because of—a landmark Supreme Court ruling that cut into their involuntary base of dues-paying members, labor unions doubled down during the 2017-18 election cycle, spending more than $2 billion, according to an analysis of government records.

The National Institute for Labor Relations Research compared filings from the Labor Department, Federal Election Commission and Internal Revenue Service to determine that Big Labor had bet heavily on the 2018 midterms—even after the devastating legal decision.

Last June, the high court’s landmark Janus v. AFSCME decision determined that public-sector employees could not be forced to pay dues to unions whose political activities they opposed.

The ruling threatened to purge possibly millions of members from their ranks—and even more from their coffers. However, many cases have arisen of unions actively resisting the law by setting narrow withdrawal windows or simply refusing to comply.

In some cases, state legislatures have even jumped on board to pitch alarming legislative workarounds to the federal mandate.

The NILRR determined that of the $2 billion invested in lobbying and electioneering activities during the most recent election cycle, more than $1.3 billion came directly from general treasury funds that were paid by union-member dues, often forcibly imposed on non-members.

But the group said that its spending figure was likely a conservative estimate.

“On balance, then, the aggregate $2 billion in political and lobbying expenditures by labor union[s] since the 2018 election cycle reported here is likely an understatement because NILRR chose to mostly ignore the $500 million of union contributions, gifts, and grants that are heavily misclassified,” it said in a release.

Shockingly, the $2 billion reflected an increase of at least $300 million over the 2016 presidential race, when the union rolls were not in jeopardy. However, the amount of general treasury funding did not increase between the two election cycles.

Union contributions historically have gone almost exclusively to Democrats, and the most recent cycle was no exception, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The top 20 recipients of 2018 campaign donations from unions were all Democrats.

Unfortunately for the unions, several of their biggest “investments” in the U.S. Senate were for naught.

Public-sector unions‘ top three campaign cash recipients—Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Bill Nelson of Florida and Claire McCaskill of Missouri—all were voted out of office.