Ballotpedia releases research on public-sector union political spending

Our research project analyzing public-sector union membership, finances, and political spending is now complete. In last week’s edition, we shared our key findings on union finances. This week, let’s turn our attention to political spending.

Campaign finance reporting requirements at both the federal and state levels enable us to report comprehensively on political spending by public-sector unions. Using resources compiled by the National Institute on Money in Politics, we collected data on all contributions made by public-sector unions to political candidates in 2018.

Summary of findings
Public-sector unions contributed $159.8 million to candidates for federal, state, or local office in 2018. Note that this figure does not account for unions’ satellite spending activities. The five states in which political candidates received the most money in contributions from public-sector unions are:

  • California, where unions contributed $74.1 million, 46.4 percent of the nationwide total.
  • Illinois, where unions contributed $14.2 million, 8.9 percent of the nationwide total.
  • Oregon, where unions contributed $10.6 million, 6.6 percent of the nationwide total.
  • Minnesota, where unions contributed $10.4 million, 6.5 percent of the nationwide total.
  • New York, where unions contributed $9.8, 6.1 percent of the nationwide total.

Combined contributions in these five states totaled $119.0 million, about 75 percent of the nationwide total. Meanwhile, contributions in the remaining 45 states totaled $40.7 million—about 25 percent of the nationwide total.

For a complete breakdown of public-sector union political spending data, including links to state-specific data sets, see this article.

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 102 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking.

Union Station map September 27, 2019.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Union Station status chart September 27, 2019.png

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s)

Union Station partisan chart September 27, 2019.png

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of legislative actions taken since our last issue. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state then by bill number.

  • California AB314: This bill would require employers to grant employees paid time for certain union activities.
    • Presented to the governor Sept. 24.
  • New Hampshire HB363: This bill would establish the state legislature as a public employer under the state’s public-employer labor relations laws.
    • Legislative Administration Committee work session held Sept. 26.