Data: Unions Spent at Least $1.7 Billion on 2022 Midterms


Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, speaks during a rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court June 9, 2021 in Washington, DC.
(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)


In the 2022 midterm election cycle, unions spent an estimated minimum of about $1.7 billion, according to data from the National Institute for Labor Relations Research (NILRR). This substantial figure includes spending by Political Action Committees (PACs) controlled by unions.

As reported by OpenSecrets, an independent government watchdog, PACs accounted for $54,677,164 of political contributions between 2021 and 2022, with 183 union PACs contributing to candidates. Of these contributions, $6,857,226 was directed to Republican candidates, and $47,770,438 went to Democratic candidates.

However, unions’ direct spending greatly surpassed the PACs’ donations in the midterm elections. Based on the Department of Labor’s Form LM-2, unions reported spending $1,616,575,642 on politics and lobbying. The NILRR report also pointed out that unions don’t always accurately categorize political expenses, with some listed under headings such as “Union Administration,” “Contributions, Gifts, and Grants,” and “Representational Activities.”

For instance, the National Education Association donated a total of $12,675,000 during 2021 and 2022 to the State Engagement Fund (SEF), categorized as “Contributions, Gifts, and Grants.” The SEF is an advocacy organization that funnels money to select left-wing groups. It is led by Anne Bartley, who is also a cofounder of the Democracy Alliance, a group that has been criticized for dark money contributions.

Similarly, the AFL-CIO donated $8 million in 2022 to the Strategic Victory Fund, a PAC initiated by the Democracy Alliance in 2020 to defeat President Donald Trump. This was also categorized as “Contributions, Gifts, and Grants.”

The NILRR identified $53,240,742 in expenses that were not correctly categorized as political expenses. When adding this sum to the $1.67 billion from unions, the total comes to $1,724,493,548. The report suggests that there may be more political expenses that were incorrectly categorized.

Union support is integral to President Joe Biden, who has described himself as “the most pro-union president … in American history.” Major unions such as the AFL-CIO, American Federation of Teachers, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees have already endorsed Biden for the 2024 presidential election.


Trending stories, leading insights, & top analysis delivered directly to your inbox.

By submitting this form, you agree to receive email messages from The Liz Wheeler Show to the email address you provide. You may unsubscribe at any time.


Related Stories


Scroll to Top