Connecticut’s public employee unions are big players in the state’s elections, spending millions on their political operations, which may affect 2014 races.
The unions are a highly-focused, highly-motivated interest group when it comes to state-level elections, because the candidates who win will sit directly across the table from them during contract negotiations.
It can be a difficult task to “follow the money” when it comes to unions and campaign spending, but by searching the state’s online database of campaign contributions expenditures, a clearer picture of how much public sector unions are spending on state-level campaigns emerges.
In the two years between the 2010 and 2012 state elections, the largest public sector unions – including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU); American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); American Federation of Teachers (AFT); and the Connecticut Education Association (CEA) – spent $834,968.51, on campaigns for state and local offices, the vast majority of it going to candidates or committees from the Democratic and Working Family parties.
The two years between the 2010 and 2012 state elections were tumultuous for state employees – it was during this time that they were in heated negotiations with Gov. Dan Malloy over a new contract.
Contributions to PACs and to candidates made up most of the $800,000-plus in spending, which was given primarily to elect state representatives and state senators since there were no statewide races in 2012.
Federal law requires unions to file disclosures on their political spending. The Department of Labor makes those disclosures available through an online database – unionreports.gov.
According to the disclosures filed with the Department of Labor, Connecticut’s public sector unions SEIU, AFT and AFSCME (none were found for the CEA) spent $4,286,949.85 on political activities in the years 2011-2013.
Anything unions do to support candidates for federal or state office is included in that amount – including political contributions or political activities like getting voters to the polls on election day.