Government Unions’ Political Spending Dwarfs Natural Gas

A rehashed report from Common Cause PA and Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania assert that Marcellus Shale drillers spent $8 million on campaign contributions and $41 million on lobbying in Pennsylvania since 2007. But is that a lot?

When compared to government unions, it’s a drop in the bucket. 

In terms of campaign expenditures, just a handful of the largest state government unions spent nearly 4 times what Marcellus Shale drillers did.

Political Action Committee (PAC) Expenditures of Government Unions
Union PAC Total, 2007 to Oct 2014
Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) $12,880,837
Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) $1,718,274
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 13 $4,113,578
PA Service Employees International Union (SEIU) $4,368,111
United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) 1776  $1,216,863
PA American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) $613,344
American Federation of Teachers Pennsylvania (AFT-PA) $138,324
PA Families First* $2,916,561
American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO COPE (National) $337,900
AFSCME People $2,208,825
Total $30,512,617
* PA Families First is an Independent Expenditure Committee, or Super PAC, funded primarily through national government unions

In terms of lobbying, it is difficult to do an apples to apples comparison.

As Media Trackers reported this past summer, many government union leaders are ignoring the state lobbying law by failing to register as lobbyists with the state. What’s worse, unions like UFCW spend millions in union dues on TV commercials asking voters to call their lawmakers and even hire contract lobbyists, but they don’t count that spending as lobbying (rather, they categorize it as “representational activities”).

Based on the limited reporting of union lobbying available—and missing 2014 information in most cases—just six government unions matched the $41 million in lobbying spending by gas drillers.

“Political Activities and Lobbying” from Union Dues by Government Unions
Union Total, 2007 to 2014
PSEA* $20,004,282
AFSCME Council 13 $9,042,586
PA SEIU $2,893,296
UFCW 1776* $2,787,936
AFT Pennsylvania $650,617
SEIU Healthcare* $5,181,561
Total $40,560,278
* Totals for PSEA, PA SEIU, SEIU Healthcare, and UFCW are through 2013 only

Combined—noting this is far from a complete picture—government unions spent a whopping $71 million on politics since 2007, dwarfing the spending of gas companies.

Moreover, taxpayers are paying to subsidize the collection of union political money.

Ironically, Common Cause, which co-wrote the piece on Marcellus Shale political spending, has stated that “Public resources are not supposed to be used for partisan political purposes.” Yet, they take no position on using public resources to collect bigger campaign money for government unions.

The double standard is glaring.