Unions Pouring Money into Democrats' Nov. Warchest

Monday, 01 Sep 2014 08:23 PM

By John Blosser

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Fearing Republican control of both the House and the Senate after the November midterm elections, labor unions are pouring money into crucial campaigns.

In the 2013-2014 election cycle, the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) reports that labor groups have spent $72,665,600, with 88.8 percent going to Democratic candidates and only 10.9 percent to Republican candidates.

William Spriggs, chief economist for the AFL-CIO, which has spent $5.7 million so far, told The Hill, "There's a lot of room for mischief in a Senate that's under Republican leadership." 

Unions are concerned that if Republicans take the Senate and retain control of the House, Obama administration rulings such as updating parameters of overtime pay, raising minimum wage for federal contractors and National Labor Relations Board rulings allowing the creation of "micro-unions" within companies could be eliminated by Republicans.

"The Republicans are opposed to everything the Labor Department has announced," Ross Eisenbrey of the Economic Policy Institute told The Hill. "You can imagine riders that will be written into omnibus bills to block all of them."

Unions are focusing their contributions in key states such as Iowa, Colorado, Michigan and Alaska, where Republican victories likely could sway control of the Senate.

AFL-CIO spokesman Jeff Hauser told The Hill, "We wish that the Republican Party were not an enemy of working people, but too often — and too much of it — currently is."

However, many union members don't feel that way, and issues such as President Barack Obama's refusal to approve the Keystone pipeline project, Environmental Protection Administration regulations which have put hundreds of thousands of coal mining jobs at risk and unhappiness with increased costs on union health insurance plans through Obamacare provisions have turned many former pro-Obama union members against the president's party.

Over 40,000 members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) deserted the AFL-CIO for being "in lockstep" with the Obama administration, with ILWU President Robert McElltath stating, "President Obama ran on a platform that he would not tax medical plans, yet the Federation (AFL-CIO) later lobbied affiliates to support a bill that taxed our health care plans," the Washington Free Beacon reported. 

The Republican National Committee has lobbied labor interests hard on those issues, publishing statements by the United Mine Workers that proposed EPA regulations would cost 485,000 jobs and quoting Terry O'Sullivan, president of the Laborers' International Union of North America, saying of the Keystone Pipeline:

"It's not the oil that's dirty, it’s the politics. Once again, the administration is making a political calculation instead of doing what is right for the country."

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