$1 in $4 in Labor PAC Contributions to Legislators Went to GOP Lawmakers

March 18, 2015

Majority Republican lawmakers who successfully pushed a state right-to-work bill through the legislature that was opposed by labor received more than $106,000 in political action committee contributions in 2014 from labor unions, according to a preliminary review by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

The legislative proposal was proposed and approved with lightning speed in late February and early March on a near party-line vote. The controversial new law, which makes it illegal to require workers to make payments to unions as a condition of employment, was signed into law a few days later by GOP Gov. Scott Walker, a prospective 2016 presidential candidate, who received more than $71,000 from labor PACs in 2014.

The right-to-work measure was strongly opposed by most of the construction and trade unions that were top labor PAC contributors to legislative Republicans only months earlier. Topping the list of labor PAC contributions to Republican lawmakers in 2014 was the Operating Engineers Local 139, which represents construction equipment operators, at $28,550, and the Wisconsin State Council of Carpenters at $24,750 (see Table below).

Labor PAC contributions to all current legislators totaled more than $373,000 in 2014, including $106,500, or 29 percent, to Republican lawmakers. Topping the list of GOP legislators who received labor PAC contributions in 2014 were Rep. Dale Kooyenga, of Brookfield, $4,000; Rep. Al Ott, of Forest Junction, and Sen. Roger Roth, of Appleton, $3,250 each; and Sen. Jerry Petrowski, of Marathon, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, of Burlington, $3,000 each.

Petrowski was the only Republican in the legislature to vote against the right-to-work bill.

PAC Contributions to Current Republican Legislators
Jan. 1, 2014 – Dec. 31, 2014

NAME Amount
Operating Engineers 139 PAC $28,550
WI State Council of Carpenters $24,750
Steamfitters Local 601 PAC $10,250
Plumbers Steamfitters 434 $10,250
Milwaukee Police Assn PAC $9,450
Wisconsin Professional Police Association $6,500
Plumbers & Gasfitters Local 75 $5,000
Plumbers Local 400/298 COPE Fund $4,750
WI Pipe Trades PAC $1,500
Milwaukee Professional Firefighters 215 $1,500
Sprinkler Fitters Local 183 $1,250
WI Laborers District Council $1,000
Northeast WI Building & Construction Trades Council $750
United Transportation Union $500
North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters $500
TOTAL $106,500