From exit polls and other readily accessible data, it’s easy to ascertain that the vast majority of unionized employees, their spouses, and other adults living in their households either backed Republican Donald Trump, Libertarian Gary Johnson, Green Jill Stein, or some other third-party or independent candidate for President, or didn’t cast any presidential ballot this year. But regardless of how unionized workers and their families voted, if they voted at all, Big Labor relentlessly poured the workers’ forced dues and fees into efforts to elect Democrat Hillary Clinton and her running mate Tim Kaine.
Federal law grants union officials extraordinary power over individual workers. Except in Right to Work states, federal labor law and parallel state statutes authorize Big Labor to get workers in a broad array of industries and government agencies fired for refusal to fork over forced union dues or fees. But in theory, Big Labor shouldn’t be able to get away with using a worker’s forced-dues money to cancel out his or her own vote, or to help one candidate in a race when the worker favors none.
Under court precedents won by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, forced dues-paying workers who never join or resign from the union have the right to pay a forced, but reduced, union “agency” fee rather than full forced dues. And objecting workers’ forced fees are not supposed to be spent on politics or electioneering.
However, as countless Foundation cases show, union bosses routinely lie to workers. Workers are falsely told that they have to join the union, or that they can’t automatically resign.
Time and again, workers are tricked by such falsehoods and pay full union dues to save their jobs. By exploiting its legal privileges and intimidating workers, Big Labor was able to pour an estimated $1.7 billion into electioneering and lobbying in the 2011-12 campaign cycle, the last time their was a presidential election. In all likelihood, the union hierarchy is spending even more money (overwhelmingly forced dues and fees) on political and ideological activities in 2015-2016.
Roughly 49% of the 22.7 million union household members who voted in the 2016 presidential election did not vote for Clinton-Kaine. (See the exit poll linked below for more information.) And one may conservatively estimate that at least 40% of union household members who were eligible to vote on November 8 opted not to back any presidential candidate at all.
That means only about 30% of all adult union household members actually voted for Clinton-Kaine in the general election. But the vast sums of unionized workers’ forced dues and fees funneled into the Clinton-Kaine served as the bulwark for the ticket’s get-out-the-vote efforts, which nearly secured for these candidates an Electoral College majority.
Why did union bosses spend so much of unionized workers’ forced-dues money on candidates for whom the union rank and file and their families didn’t vote? First and foremost, union bosses are determined to elect and reelect politicians who oppose Right to Work protections for employees. To secure Big Labor’s backing, Clinton vowed again and again that she would veto a national Right to Work law if Congress sent one to her desk. Her running mate, a former governor, once paid lip service to state bans on compulsory unionism as a politician running for office in Right to Work Virginia. But once he was running for nationwide office he joined Clinton in declaring across-the-board support for union monopoly control over employees.
Scientific polls consistently show the vast majority of union members don’t support compulsory unionism, period. There’s no conceivable way they would regard it as a litmus test for federal candidates. But union bosses do, and election cycle after election cycle they pour enormous amounts of workers’ forced-dues money into campaign activities to enforce their preferences.