Recently I participated in a podcast for the non-profit Freedom Works. One of the topics was how much influence public unions have on federal, state and local politicians. I said that I had not seen academic studies, but my own belief is that their over-sized political influence has allowed them to increase wages, benefits and advantages for public workers. It doesn’t look all that different from how corporations and Wall Street buy political influence through elections and legislation.
This is from a University of Pennsylvania study that maps union support to favorable fiscal decisions:
Our empirical analysis focuses on municipal elections in the 150 largest cities in the U.S. between 1990 and 2012. We find that challengers strongly benefit from [union] endorsements in competitive elections. Challengers that receive union endorsements and successfully defeat an incumbent also tend to adopt more union friendly fiscal policies.
In 2010, the Wall Street Journal commented on public union political spending at the national level:
The 1.6 million-member AFSCME is spending a total of $87.5 million on the elections after tapping into a $16 million emergency account to help fortify the Democrats’ hold on Congress. Last week, AFSCME dug deeper, taking out a $2 million loan to fund its push. The group is spending money on television advertisements, phone calls, campaign mailings and other political efforts, helped by a Supreme Court decision that loosened restrictions on campaign spending.