But that was before private sector union membership began to slide. Unions know that the larger government is, the larger the pool of potential union members. Understanding this simple fact explains Big Labor’s marriage with the Democrat Party, which views bigger government as better government.
According to reports filed with the Department of Labor, between 2005 and 2011 unions spent $3.3 billion on political activity, nearly all of which went to Democrat initiatives or candidates. Researches are still tabulating 2012 election data but no one expects these numbers to drastically change.
Union clout is largely based on the size of their political war chest. Any politician that threatens the flow of members’ dues is immediately targeted. In Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker was recalled as were four State Senators; in Ohio, Governor Kasich’s austerity reforms were put to a referendum; in Michigan – which just became the 25th Right-to-Work state – a handful of legislators and maybe even the governor are anticipating recall elections.
With their backs against the wall, look for union spending to increase as every state battle becomes more essential to their significance. But some change is inevitable, and unless unions overhaul their compensation system and arcane rules, next year there will be even less union members.