Gov Unions Spent Over Half A Billion Dollars Backing Democrats, The Left During Midterm Elections: Report
PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 15: Democratic candidate for Governor Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro addresses supporters during a joint rally with Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate John Fetterman at Norris Park on October 15, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Election Day will be held nationwide on November 8, 2022.
Credit: Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images.

The four largest public sector unions spent nearly $700 million backing Democrats and leftist causes during last year’s elections, with nearly 60% of the funds coming from union dues, according to an analysis of spending by the Commonwealth Foundation.

Of the $708.8 million spent on politics during the 2022 midterm elections by the National Education Association (NEA), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), about 96% of the money went to Democrat political action committees or other leftist causes, the Commonwealth Foundation found.

The four unions combined outspent the defense, transportation, and construction industries. “Any progressive organization that you can think of is probably getting something from the unions,” Commonwealth Foundation Senior Fellow for Labor Policy David Osborne told The Daily Wire.

Millions of union PAC dollars went toward leftist groups like For Our Future and dark money group the Sixteen Thirty Fund, as well as Democrat candidates like Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock and Pennsylvania Democrat Governor Josh Shapiro.

While it’s no surprise that unions overwhelmingly back Democrats and Democrat causes, Osborne that many union members likely didn’t know how much their dues were being spent on the “pet political projects” of union leaders rather than representation for members.

“What unions often try to hide is the fact that membership dues can also be used for politics,” he said. “The union doesn’t really have to tell membership what it’s [the money] going to go to. Doesn’t have to take a vote on it. By and large, what they do is, take all that money and then shovel a bunch of it over to a super-PAC, sometimes it’s affiliated with the union so that they can do all kinds of political spending that members may never find out about.”

According to the report, about 57% of the total money spent on politics by the unions came from union dues, while the rest came from state and federal PACs, which union members are encouraged to support.

“When employees learn that their dues are being used to fund political projects, that’s a value in and of itself. There are some things they can do as individuals to cut off the funding if they desire,” Osborne said.

The biggest beneficiary of union dollars was Shapiro, who raked in about $4,540,000 million from the PACs during his campaign for office, the Commonwealth Foundation found. Osborne told The Daily Wire that this number was “absolutely shocking,” pointing out that this amount was three times more than any other individual.

Shapiro would later negotiate with members of both the local SEIU and AFSCME, which included an increase in pay and benefits for union members.

Other top recipients of union money at the state level included California Attorney General Rob Bonta ($1,297,200), Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson ($1,179,100), and failed Texas gubernatorial and 2020 presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke ($990,000).

Courtesy: The Commonwealth Foundation.

At the federal level, union PACs gave significantly to Warnock ($60,500), House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries ($50,000), and failed Senate candidates Mandela Barnes ($45,000) and Tim Ryan ($42,000).

“In total, PACs tied to the four largest government unions contributed to 282 candidates for the House of Representatives. Of those, 273 were Democrats, seven were Republicans, one was a third-party candidate, and one was an independent,” the report says.

The report made note of the close ties between the unions and President Joe Biden, who has billed himself as the most “pro-union” president ever. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, Biden’s Centers for Disease Control directly adopted language suggestions from the AFT into the organization’s school reopening guidelines,” the report notes.

Text messages revealed earlier this year showed AFT President Randi Weingarten and NEA President Becky Pringle texting with former CDC Director Rochelle Walensky about school reopening policies.

Courtesy: The Commonwealth Foundation.

A variety of Democrat-leaning PACs and leftist organizations also pulled in a significant amount of money from union spending. For example, the unions gave a whopping $29,138,171 to the SEIU Political Education and Action Fund, a PAC that primarily backs Democrats for federal office and $13 million to the State Engagement Fund, a Left-wing dark money group. The Senate Majority PAC and the House Majority PAC, which support Democratic majorities in Congress, both received millions of dollars from the union PACs.


The report found that the union political spending favored Democrats in every state but Alabama, Mississippi, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. The states with the most union political spending were Illinois ($27.9 million), California ($24.9), Minnesota ($13.2 million), Pennsylvania ($12.1 million), and Washington ($7.5 million).

“Armed with millions of members and numerous special privileges, the four largest unions have dedicated significant financial resources toward maintaining and expanding the legal structures from which they derive their power,” the report says, pointing out that union-backed candidates performed well during the midterms, and states like California continue to expand union privileges.

Government unions use this power not only to advance leftist causes but also to elect political leaders who will protect their interests and influence. The result, unfortunately, is that federal, state, and local governments are increasingly led by politicians who care more about union executives than union members or taxpayers,” Osborne said.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Gov Unions Spent Over Half A Billion Dollars Backing Democrats, The Left During Midterm Elections: Report