Ten political action committees (PACs) controlled by labor unions that represent police, firefighters, plumbers, carpenters and construction workers contributed about $64,000 during the first six months of 2015 to Republican campaign committees.
The labor PAC contributions to Republicans accounted for about 45 percent of the total $142,350 in labor PAC contributions to all legislative and statewide officeholders and candidates between January and June 2015, which was the same period that the Republican-controlled legislature and GOP Gov. Scott Walker considered and approved prevailing wage law changes and a right-to-work law that were opposed by most unions.
Topping the list of labor unions that contributed to Republican statewide and legislative officeholders was the Wisconsin Pipe Trades PAC, which gave $36,000, including $30,000 to Walker and $6,000 to the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee (RACC). RACC is used by Republican Assembly leaders to raise money from special interests to spend against Assembly Democratic legislators and candidates in elections.
The Milwaukee Police Association PAC, which is one of the few labor unions that has been a longtime contributor to mostly Republican legislative and statewide candidates, contributed $11,000 to GOP fundraising committees, including $6,000 to RACC, $3,500 to the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate (CERS), $1,000 to GOP Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, of Juneau, and $500 to Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel. CERS is used by Republican Senate leaders to raise money from special interests to spend against Democratic state senators and candidates in elections.
Rounding out the top three labor PACs that gave to Republicans was the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin Local PAC, which contributed $7,000, including $6,000 to RACC and $1,000 to CERS.
The top Republican recipients of labor PAC contributions between January and June 2015 were Walker, $32,500; RACC, $24,000; and CERS, $4,500.
In March, Walker and majority GOP legislators approved a right-to-work law, which prohibits requiring workers to make payments to labor unions as a condition for employment. In July, Walker and the legislature approved a 2015-17 state budget that repealed the state’s prevailing wage law as it applies to local government projects.