Is Union Reform Partisan?

Advocates of public sector union reform have long been accused of playing partisan politics, but the data suggests it is the unions, not the reformers, who are political partisans. According to, a nonpartisan, independent and nonprofit research group tracking money in U.S. politics, just the top 20 labor unions over the past 20 years have spent over $500 million on federal election campaigns, and 95% of that spending went to Democrats.

This data is compiled by on their webpage “Labor: Long-Term Contribution Trends.” On the chart below the blue bars represent labor union contributions to Democrats, and the red bars represent labor union contributions to Republicans. They show the total reported political contributions for the last eleven two-year election cycles through 2010. The red bars are scarcely visible.

The next table, which extracts data from the OpenSecrets webpage “Heavy Hitters: Top All Time Donors” (below) shows the top 20 labor union’s political contributions to each party for the same 22 year period. Among most of the major labor unions, the contributions are nearly 100% to Democrats. Overall, 95% of political contributions by labor unions have gone to Democrats, and only 5% to Republicans.

One can argue as to whether or not the agenda and policies of Democrats and Republicans are the cause or the effect of political contributions. But there can be no doubt that the overwhelming preference of organized […] Read More