Unions spend millions in state campaigns
WASHINGTON — When Maggie Hassan won the New Hampshire governor's race, it wasn't just a victory for her fellow Democrats.
Unions spent millions backing Hassan with television ads and an extensive get-out-the-vote operation because she opposes a right-to-work bill to ban labor-management contracts that require affected workers to be union members or pay union fees.
From California to Maine, unions used their political muscle to help install Democratic governors, build labor-friendly majorities in state legislatures and defeat ballot initiatives against them.
In perhaps their most important victory, unions defeated a California ballot measure that would have prohibited them from collecting money for political purposes through payroll deductions.
“The unions must be fairly happy with themselves,” said Gary Chaison, professor of industrial relations at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. “These are positive signs, particularly saving their political life in California.”
While re-electing President Obama was labor's highest Election Day priority, unions invested major resources in state races where they have been fighting efforts by governors and state lawmakers to restrict bargaining rights or dilute union power.
The victories could mark a turnaround of sorts for unions nearly two years after Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker announced plans to strip teachers, nurses and other public employees of most collective bargaining rights. Walker, a Republican, justified the move as necessary to trim the state's budget shortfall.
Since then, unions have been fighting dozens of measures around the country targeting labor rights. They failed earlier this year to recall Walker from office, but a judge has declared parts of the Wisconsin law unconstitutional.
Labor's victories happened at a steep cost, too. Unions and other Democratic interests poured at least $75 million in the effort to defeat California's Proposition 32.
Unions are not so much thriving as surviving.
“Thanks to union dues, it's a self-replenishing stream,” said Bill Whalen, a fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution. “They still have a sea of money to spend, and they prove quite adept at winning political arguments.”
Next to winning Obama's re-election, defeating Proposition 32 in California was labor's top goal. Prohibiting unions from collecting money for political activities through paycheck deductions would have deprived them of tens of millions of dollars for donations to candidates and financing campaigns.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Escaped inmate called armed, dangerous and homicide suspect by police
- Pirates DFA Vance Worley
- Starkey: Garoppolo baffles Steelers
- Beechview man sentenced to jail for fatal drunk driving crash
- State Dems broke ties with political consultant days before FBI raids
- Blue Jays land Price in Toronto’s 2nd big trade of week
- Arraignment scheduled for Penn Hills woman accused of transporting $1M worth of heroin along turnpike
- Worker injured when excavator backs over him in Kittanning
- Peduto blasts Wolf’s plan to borrow $3B to shore up pensions
- Pirates acquire pitcher Blanton from Royals for cash
- Pittsburgh Celtics seek success, keep it ‘social’ off Gaelic football pitch