of affiliation: Unions have had a long history of their involvement in politics with many records arguing that it has taken more than a century. It is important to note that majority of the unions began their activities as labor movements that later found their involvement in election campaigns. This new turn came under harsh criticisms the opposing group suggesting that “It was unwise for unions to insist on conformity when their members differed in their political views and supported opposing political parties” (Herrnson, 2005). On the other hand the people who were in support of Unions involvement in politics offered a stronger counter argument pointing to the need to have sufficient political clout that will impress politician to look into their grievances.
The second group held the day and over the years these unions have actively battled in major legislative contests to improve the lives of their members and by extension that of the general public. May be what stands out in these battles are the lengthy period and sometimes the bitter struggles paid as the price for their past victories.
This paper will address the decisive roles taken up by Unions in today’s USA federal election. Unions have taken a central position in highlighting the economic issues in the US. Here, they keenly monitor what goes on in the congress, city halls and state capitols drawing up legislative agendas with lists of measures favorable to them and those which are not. In doing this, the unions create an open ground upon which political positions in the federal government are contested. Such is the case that each political wing tries to come up with policies that appeal to these groups of interests.
Putting it in simple words, we will say Unions table agendas that set the pace for federal politics. Unions through the Federation of labor organizations (AFL-CIO) monitor congress members with regard to their voting on important family legislations. The voting data is tabulated indicating how each legislator faired while voting on important issues. The information is published periodically with each legislator receiving a score on his/her performance. This updated information serves as an important guide used by the public to apprise candidates in any current election (Lyons, 2010).
Looking at this, it is Ok to say that Unions play the vital role in educating voters on important issues and also guide them to make right choices with regard to the candidates who will address their plights. Another role of the Union that is much pronounced in the US elections is the endorsement of candidates. Union for many years have be known to represent the voice of the people, a ground that has been much used in the past to drum up support for their preferred candidate.
In doing these unions play a major role in deciding the nation’s future leaders since candidates who get their endorsement end up with large followers who ultimately vote in their favor. For example, in the last elections, the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE), AFGE, and NTEU endorsed Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va. ) for the Washington metro area. In the same elections, Rep. Frank R. Wolf, a Virginia republican was endorsed by the federal employee organizations (Lyons, C. (2010). Union’s participation in federal elections goes beyond just endorsing to financing candidates of their choice through what has been termed “outside spending. ” In this case, the high profile unions spend large sums of money that can go even to a million dollars moving across the country in support of their candidate.
For example, in the last election a report published by Center for Responsive Politics indicated that towards the end of the presidential campaign period the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees spent more than $1 million, mostly on advertisements to oppose Republican House candidates.
When this was happening the Service Employees International Union on the other side was spending $384,000, primarily on campaign mailings and phone banks in support of the Democratic candidates (Felchner, 2008). Unions influence on federal elections can also be seen through their political action committees. Labor unions are presently known for their outstanding political action committees that in the last election cycle spent more than 49 million dollars combined. Led by building trade Unions that solely spent over $12 million, these political action committees gave out more the $45.8 million to support the Democratic candidates and committees.
In summary, Unions have for a long time and still will play important role in shaping the political face in the federal government. It is undeniable that these unions hold greater influence, thanks to their huge membership and large sums of money at their disposal. The unions roles in US elections range from, sensitization of the electorate, endorsement of candidates, financial support to the candidates, devising campaign agendas to the actual campaign for their preferred candidates. In all these the union set a platform for the campaigns and goes further to put their weight on how it goes. References Felchner, M.
(2008). Voting in America. Westport, Conn. : Praeger. Herrnson, P. (2005). The interest group connection: Electioneering, lobbying, and policymaking in Washington (2nd ed. ). Washington, D.C. : CQ Press. Lyons, C. (2010). Nonprofit groups and partisan politics: Is tighter regulation needed