Labor unions have already poured millions of dollars into various races across the country, usually in support of Democrats, as the November elections near.
In the 2012 election cycle alone, unions categorized as 501(c) spent $23,913,872 in political expenditures. This according to Federal Election Commission data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. While this year’s disclosures are incomplete, unions are stepping up their game with the Democratic Senate majority on the line and several Northeastern governor’s races surprisingly close.
In New Mexico a political committee has raised nearly $1.1 million in the past month to help Democrats keep their House majority within the state.
Meanwhile in Connecticut, unions have shown overwhelming support for Democrat incumbent Gov. Dannel Malloy over his Republican challenger Tom Foley.
Malloy has been able to gain much of his support from unions for his stands on collective bargaining rights, paid sick leave and minimum wage increases, according to the Associated Press. This is despite previous conflicts with unionized state employees in 2011, when Malloy threatened massive layoffs during a budget impasse.
As of last week, reports filed with the State Elections Enforcement Commission show that national unions based in Washington, D.C., have contributed at least $1.9 million to Connecticut Forward, an independent expenditure political action committee which supports Malloy.
“We’ve had our differences, but we worked those differences out because we have a seat at the table. He treats us with respect,” AFSCME President Lee Saunders said in an interview with the Associated Press.
The AP also reports that some of these same unions have contributed tens of thousands to the Connecticut Working Families Party’s PAC, which also endorses Malloy.
Richard Trumka, the national president of the AFL-CIO, is scheduled to campaign in Hartford for Malloy on Tuesday.
Additionally, unions have attacked Foley for appearing to want to emulate a 2011 Wisconsin law promoted by Republican Gov. Scott Walker that limits public workers to bargaining only over base wage increases no greater than inflation.
However, Foley says he has no plans to roll back collective bargaining rights, telling the Associated Press “This is what unions and Democrats do. They try and drive a wedge issue. The unions are trying to defend Democrats as governor. I don’t know because I think, long-term, state employees probably will get a better deal from Republicans than they would from Democrats.”
Foley continued, “I think they’re wasting their money because they don’t have a candidate here who has done a good enough job to warrant re-election.”
Across the country in New Mexico, a recently released campaign finance report shows that labor unions have given about $987,000 to the Patriot Majority New Mexico, a PAC which is committed to helping the Democrats retain their House majority within the state.
The Patriot Majority New Mexico has received $400,000 from a committee of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, $337,500 from a National Education Association political fund, and $200,000 an American Federation of Teachers’ political committee according to the Associated Press.