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Big labor, with big money, big force at Democratic convention




PHILADELPHIA – Big Labor may be a diminishing presence in the American workforce, but it remains a powerful force in the Democratic Party.

That union political muscle was on full display Monday at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Names like Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Richard Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO. And Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.

These union chieftans are on hand at this week’s convention to make sure they are getting what they are paying for.

“Get on your feet. Let’s change the rules. Let’s take back Congress. Let’s get a pro-worker Supreme Court and let’s elect Hillary Clinton the next president of the United States,” Trumka told a boisterous convention hall.

Trumka and his Big Labor friends have spent a combined $93 million thus far in the 2016 election cycle, 84 percent of that cash going to Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. 

The AFL-CIO alone has contributed $7.83 million in the current election cycle, all to liberal causes. It ranks fourth among organizations funding outside groups to influence votes, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Three of the top five political contributors are unions.

“Our movement will be an unstoppable force in this election because the stakes could not be higher,” Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, told Democratic delegates, referring to all as her “brothers and sisters.”

SEIU has kicked in north of $1.64 million to political campaigns, all of them liberals,  in the 2016 cycle.

Contributions to candidates are only part of the story, however.

The Center for Union Facts, a nonprofit organization fighting for transparency and accountability in the U.S. labor movement, said union bosses send millions of dollars to liberal special interest groups closely aligned with the Democratic Party. They do so while classifying the expenditures as “representational activities” or some other non-political designation.


From 2012 to 2014, big labor spent more than $418 million on political advocacy and the money was primarily derived from member dues—still mandatory in non-right-to-work states, Union Facts found. Meanwhile, roughly 40 percent of union members vote Republican in any given election cycle.

“We need to get big money out of politics and root out corruption,” U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., told delegates. Warren, who has crusaded against the U.S Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, has expressed little objection to organized labor’s “big money” in politics.


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