Big Labor Dropped $2 Billion on Midterms

Report finds that millions of dollars has been 'misclassified' in federal labor filings

Big Labor ramped up its political spending during the 2018 election season, dwarfing the amount it spent during the 2016 presidential campaign.

An analysis of union financial disclosures and reports found that labor organizations spent more than $2 billion on political activities in the run-up to the midterm elections that saw Democrats take control of the House of Representatives for the first time in eight years. That spending was an 18 percent increase from 2016, despite the fact that non-presidential elections tend to attract less attention from voters and lower spending by advocacy and campaign groups. Nearly 70 percent of political expenditures, which include lobbying, came directly from worker dues, according to the analysis conducted by the National Institute for Labor Relations Research (NILRR).

"Union officials spent $1.37 billion directly from union treasuries (filled with forced dues and fees) on politics, dwarfing the reported combined political spending of George Soros, the Koch Brothers, and Hollywood during the same period," the report says.

Mark Mix, president of the labor watchdog National Right to Work Foundation, said that he was not surprised by the record spending. Labor groups campaigned heavily for Hillary Clinton in 2016, only to see 43 percent of union households pull the lever for Donald Trump, giving Republicans control of Congress and the White House. The outpouring of money in 2018 was aimed supporting candidates friendly to the union agenda.