In an interesting preface to the 2016 presidential campaign, a Republican candidate may do more to drive a wedge between unions and their members than the usual automatic Big Labor support of liberal candidates generally provokes. Although 40% of union households generally vote Democratic, a current poll by the AFL-CIO shows that of the union households who have already decided on a candidate, 18% have selected Trump, while Clinton and Sanders have secured only 19% support combined!
Big Labor sent about $420 million in political contributions to liberal interests between 2012 and 2014, and rank and file union members who supply those funds are beginning to express their ire. The union leopard won’t change its spots as election “funding” season continues, but the heat in the kitchen is starting to rise.
In a related story, seven different unions in the AFL-CIO are demanding that the labor federation cut ties with Tom Steyer, the environmental activist and megadonor funding a new super-PAC with the organized labor group. Steyer is against the Keystone Pipeline, and according to a letter from the union officials involved, “a growing trend within the Federation seems to consistently minimize the importance of Building Trades jobs and our members’ livelihoods in the pursuit of a coalition strategy with outside organizations that has produced mixed results at best and disastrous results at worst for our members and their employment prospects in many instances throughout the country.” When the rank and file union membership catch on to the fact that the objective of the super-PAC is to take down Trump, things could really get interesting.
In an interesting side note for us in the labor space, US Labor Secretary Thomas Perez has been mentioned as a possible VP candidate on the Clinton ticket.