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Analysis: Big Labor Political Spending Topped $2 Billion on 2018 Election Cycle

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Big Labor Spent $2 Billion on the 2018 Election Cycle, mostly from union treasuries filled with forced union dues.

Union federal disclosure reports show over $1.3 billion spent on “political and lobbying activities” from forced dues-funded union treasuries in 2017-18

(Washington, DC) – The National Institute for Labor Relations Research (NILRR) has released a new analysis of publicly available union political spending data during the 2017-2018 election cycle, finding record levels of spending compared even to the 2016 election cycle.

Using data compiled from U.S. Department of Labor union financial disclosure (LM-2) forms, Political Action Committee (PAC) filings with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), 527 group reports to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and state campaign finance reports, NILRR researchers can confidently say union officials spent over $2 billion on electioneering and lobbying during the 2018 election cycle. This amount represents an increase of nearly $300 million over the 2016 presidential election cycle spending.

Of the $2 billion in political spending, over $1.3 billion comes from union general treasury funds. Union general treasury funds consist primarily of money paid by workers to the union as dues or fees, mostly from workers who would be fired for refusing to pay. This expenditure is self-reported by the unions on the U.S. Department of Labor union financial disclosure reports (LM-2), although unions without any private sector members are not required to file such reports meaning the total is actually considerably higher.

Based on cautious methods used to determine Big Labor’s political spending, NILRR’s researchers conclude that “On balance, then, the aggregate $2 billion in political and lobbying expenditures by labor union since the 2018 election cycle reported here is likely an understatement because NILRR chose to mostly ignore the $500 million of union contributions, gifts, and grants that are heavily misclassified.”

The National Institute for Labor Relations Research (NILRR) is a research facility for the general public, scholars and students. It provides the supplementary analysis and research necessary to expose the inequities of compulsory unionism