LaborTalk for February 3, 2012

Donors Invest Millions in the 2012 Elections,
Expecting Their Money to Produce Victories

By Harry Kelber

Spending millions of dollars in campaign contributions is one of the best, and surest, ways that rich corporations and wealthy individual donors can ensure the election of their favored candidates. The 2012 election has turned into a money race, in which fund-raising is the prime focus of many campaigns.

Thus far, a variety of outside groups, including corporations and unions, have spent a record-breaking $56,746,703 during the 2012 election cycle. They provide the additional resources to run ads, make phone calls, distribute literature and engage in other activities to sway the electorate on candidates and issues.

A January. 2010 Supreme Court decision now permits donors to keep their names secret, as well as the amount of their contributions. They can operate under such non-revealing organizations as "Restore Our Future," "Make Us Great Again," and "Our Destiny PAC."

It is rare for poorly-financed candidates to win an election against richly endowed ones. One of he biggest upsets was President Harry Truman's victory over Republican presidential candidate Tom Dewey in the election of 1948. A Chicago newspaper had front-paged Dewey as the victor before the official results became known.

Outspent Unions Must Rely on Issues to Attract Voters

Fearing that Republicans may win the White House and Congress and increase their hold on the nation's state legislatures, unions are increasing their donations to re-elect President Obama. According to published figures, unions have thus far spent $374,453 and have cash on hand of $438,278.

The biggest labor contributors to the Obama campaign are: Service Employees International Union (SEIU), American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the Building and Construction Trades Dept., BCTU), American Postal Workers Union (APWU) and the Boilermakers Union.

Obama supporters will have to overcome the cynicism that has developed toward the Democratic Party, with some unions threatening to withhold donations to certain candidates.

* * * * *

A major problem for both the AFL-CIO and Change-to-Win is that they have not formally involved their memberships in the 2012 election campaign. Their armies of volunteers are assigned to reach potential union voters at worksites and their homes.

What will the volunteers say when the questions are about U.S. wars and foreign policies? Or about abortion? Or about Iran? And violation of worker rights?

We'd like to hear how union leaders would respond to these and related questions.

LaborTalk will be posted here on February 7, 2012 and on our two web sites and on

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