A new report is out today summarizing the political activities of unions in the 2020 election cycle. It says unions spent $1.8 billion, and that is actually an underestimate.
The report is from the National Institute for Labor Relations Research (NILRR), the research arm of the National Right to Work Committee. It breaks union spending into three categories: spending by union political action committees (PACs), spending by public-sector unions on state and local politics, and spending from union general treasuries. The first of those, PAC expenditures, is often the number reported as total union spending in the media, according to the report. That totaled to only $57 million in 2020, leading one to conclude that unions’ influence is relatively small in elections.
But the other two categories in the NILRR report make up most of unions’ political activities. Public-sector unions spent $287 million in state and local races, and $1.4 billion left union general treasuries for political purposes in 2020.