In prepared remarks, Trumka says the role of unions is not to build the power of one political party but to improve the lives of working families.
The AFL-CIO's executive council is considering a plan that could spend less on congressional races and more on fighting state battles, like those in Wisconsin and Ohio, where lawmakers want to weaken collective bargaining rights.
The articles goes on to say that one of the largest firefighters unions stated it would no longer financially support Congressional Reps who showed a lack of support for labor unions.
The Bigger question, can unions continue to support individual candidates?
In most instances, National Unions have been a cash cow for the Democrat Party, however, one has to be realistic about how far the members’ union dues can stretch in an economy where membership is decreasing due to hiring freezes and lost jobs. When one joins a Union (most often there is no choice), then one pays dues that are ostensibly used to fight for the employees rights and support pensions. The U.S. unions have, for the most part, pushed hard for the Democrat Party, the statistics from Opensecrets.org/” lists top donors in the political cycles from 1989 through 2010 – of the first top 20 donors, 12 are unions, the balance associations and corporations, of which two lean towards donating to Republicans, three give their cash to both parties, the unions lean heavily Democrat, giving either 100% or close to that particular party.
That said, with the economy shedding jobs, and inflation on the rise, union membership is in decline, down to 11.9% nationwide as of January this year. The fact that the Stimulus funds are now disappearing, and states that relied heavily on the funds, (along with the municipalities) will be forced to lay off teachers and support personnel who are union members. The fact that there are fewer individuals employed in the private sector, who’s taxes fund the federal and state governments, puts those unions, specifically Teachers, Firefighters, Government workers, at a bit of a loss, as their livelihood depends upon a robust private sector.
When one expects the government to pay for everything, one does not consider that without taxpayers, the government does not have any income – period. Therefore, as the largest unions are municipal in nature, one can expect the cash to begin to dry up a bit, as ironically it is the working taxpayer, who, for the most part, is non-union, pays for the salaries of the members of those unions, the money then goes to support one political party only. This alone might cause a bit of resentment by those working in the "private sector".
There should be a law in place that allows unions to only use cash for pensions and to support workers rights through lobbying both parties for legislation that protects life and limb - but is it entirely necessary? Agencies like OSHA, which regulates all businesses to ensure safety compliance in the workplace is one example of the lower need for union intervention on safety issues. In fact, the United States has laws on the books regulating child labor, work safety, and almost everything a union could ostensibly fight for, except one thing: more money. On the corrupt side, some unions even benefit from donating to one political party – the United Auto Workers now own a share in General Motors, the car manufacturer which was “bailed out” by Congress and the current administration (i.e. with Taxpayers dollars); the reports of percentage of ownership in GM vary in new reports, with 55% UAW ownership about average.
Therefore, as the economy declines further, and a lack of an income to certain unions, which is directly tied to the private sector, also declines due to lost jobs, where best for those unions to use the cash? The answer, direct assaults on entire state legislatures as recently seen in Wisconsin where collective bargaining (the Holy Grail of Unions allowing them to get “more money” from State and Local governments), was on the line. The bigger issue may have been the option for state and local employees in Wisconsin to opt out of joining a union at all, further eradicating opportunities for cash and clout. Therefore, the union decision to pull cash from individual candidates is most likely based on economic trends, rather than lack of vigorous support – but the threat alone (i.e. term “union thugs”), may be enough to push Congressional Democrats, and those seeking office, to be more “union friendly” when considering which legislation the Unions feel they should support or not. Lobbyist, regardless of whether they are unions or associations, or banks or larger corporations, should be entirely banned from the ability to influence the individual elected official, or candidate by way of contributions to the same. Individuals, alone, should be allowed to give to the political candidate and/or party of their choice, regardless of which occupation one enjoys, thus ensuring that anyone organization, has little influence on the public sector. The PAC’s however, that are formed for political purposes, may be subject to less scrutiny as their individual members are not required to join, rather opt in on a free will basis.