It’s almost 125 years ago that the first workingmen’s holiday was celebrated (Tuesday, September 5, 1882) in New York. Over the next dozen years nearly 27 states recognized this holiday and in 1894, the U.S. Congress enacted it as a Federal holiday.
Among many things, the holiday has come to symbolize the unofficial end of summer, the beginning of government budget battles, serious politicking and ever busy cycle of campaign fund raising
And talking of campaign fund raising, on this Labor day holiday, one may wonder the degree to which Labor Union’s have any influence on today’s politics? According to Dept. of Labor the rate of union membership has declined steadily from 20.1% of total workforce in 1988 to just 12% in 2006 (15.4 million). With decreasing membership dues; can the Labor Unions, as special interest group PACs (Political Action Committee) have any sway over what happens on the Capitol? And how do they (318 PACs strong) measure against other special interest group PACs from the Corporate world (1,697 PACs) and Trade groups (1,033 PACs). Zoom in and pan to explore the maps below that show the spatial distribution, as on 2nd Sept, 2007, of political donations to Senators and Congressmen, from both parties, by these three special interest groups. The map data is available on Geocommons for downloads.
Spatial distribution of Labor donations by recipients
The top five recipients from Labor PACs are:
Congresswoman Laura Richardson, (CA District 37;~$310k);
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, (CA District 8; ~$194K);
Congressman Joseph Sestak (PA District 7; ~$151K);
Congressman Joseph Donnely (IN District 2; ~$140K);
Congressman Steven Kagen (WI District 8; ~$133K)
What is surprising is that Democrats also do well with Trade Groups ($15 mill) and Corporate PACs ($19.3 mill).
Spatial distribution of Trade Groups donations by recipients
The top five recipients from Trade PACs are:
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, (MD District 05; ~$347K);
Senator Max Baucus (MT; ~$331K);
House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (NY District 5; ~ $310K);
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, (KY; ~$273K);
Senator Norm Coleman (MN; ~$242K)
Compare that to Republicans who have received 11.8 mill from Trade and $18.9 mill from Corporations so far.
Spatial distribution of Corporate donations by recipients
The top five recipients from Corporate PACs are:
Senator Max Baucus (MT; ~$636K);
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY, ~$631K);
House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (NY District 15; ~$576K);
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (MD District 5; ~$562K);
Senator Mark Pryor (AR; ~$459K)
Of the three groups, Labor has given the smallest share of campaign contributions ($13.5 mill); and overwhelmingly, by a ratio of 11 to 1, to Democrats. On the other hand the Corporate and Trade PACs appear to give to both parties in near equal proportions. The Corporate PAC contributions at $38.7 million is the highest, compare that to Trade Group PACs at $27.39 million. If campaign money is one way to measure political influence, Labor has much to worry about. What do you think?
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