The Workplace Report

How Unions Still Spend Millions Of Dues Dollars On Politics

Unions spend millions of dollars taken by union members on politics, often as political “advocacy.”


The vast majority of unionized workers pay union dues and fees because they are required to pay as a condition of employment at their workplaces.

Unions, in turn, spend millions of dollars per year on political causes—many of which a percentage of their dues paying members may not agree with.

While some of the moneys unions spent on politics come from voluntary political action committee (PAC) contributions, millions of more dollars are spent from moneys taken from membership dues on political “education” or “advocacy.”

These moneys are often underreported by the mainstream media. Several years ago, however, the Wall Street Journal noted that political spending by unions far exceeds direct donations—and the amount is staggering, over $3.3 billion from 2005 to 2011.

By way of example, the Wall Street Journal noted:

Unions spend millions of dollars yearly paying teams of political hands to contact members, educating them about election issues and trying to make sure they vote for union-endorsed candidates.


When defending their political spending, unions often obfuscate the voluntary PAC contributions from other political spending.

In its post, the Wall Street Journal found that unions spend more than twice as much on “other” political spending than direct contributions.

More recently, Rick Berman, the Executive Director of the Center for Union Facts, wrote “research shows that Big Labor sent nearly $530 million to Democrats and closely aligned liberal special interest groups from 2012 to 2015—99 percent of their entire advocacy budget.”

Here are a few examples:

Richard Trumka’s AFL-CIO sent nearly $700,000 to Catalist, a leading Democratic Party data firm founded by Harold Ickes — a former Hillary Clinton aide — and backed by George Soros. The AFL-CIO also donated about $338,000 to New Partners Consulting — a political consulting firm run by former Democratic Party officials — and more than $292,000 to the Pivot Group, a Democratic direct-mail firm. Even worse, the AFL-CIO classified a $108,480 payment to ShareProgress as a “representational activity.” Yet ShareProgress is a “progressive” technology firm serving the “political left.”

The country’s two largest teachers unions — the AFT and NEA — gladly joined the party. Randi Weingarten’s AFT sent $300,000 to the Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee — the organizer of the Democratic National Convention — and $500,000 total to the Clinton Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative. The left-wing Center for Popular Democracy received $373,000, while the pro-abortion Emily’s List made off with $125,000.

The NEA contributed an additional $627,000 to Catalist and $510,000 to the Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee. The New Media Firm, another Democratic consultancy, received a whopping $1.5 million from Lily Eskelsen Garcia’s teachers union this year.

While unions have a right to spend voluntarily-donated PAC moneys on politics, union members should not be required to pay union dues which are then used to pay for political “advocacy” they may not agree with.

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