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Public Sector Unions: Not as Advertised

Considering the union rhetoric above, it seems reasonable to determine if there’s a correlation between public sector union contributions and anti-rights voting in Congress. The graph below shows a strong negative correlation indicating that as the NRA grade value falls from A (GPA=4) to F (GPA=0), public sector unions comprise a greater portion of the candidate’s campaign funding. (Spearman’s correlation value is -0.90.)

Since nearly all public sector union campaign contributions went to Democrats, it could be argued that this is a coincidental correlation, since most anti-rights politicians are Democrats. For example, the 135 NRA F-graded House members are all Democrats, and 104 of the 106 Brady-endorsed members are Democrats.**

Adjusting for the “Democrat effect,” the correlation persists (see graph below). Democrats who vote anti-rights tend to receive greater portions of campaign contributions from public sector unions. (Spearman’s value is -0.70, a strong negative correlation.)

In any case, trial lawyers, public sector unions, and Democrats all favor gun control. Those promoting the anti-rights agenda appear to consistently associate to achieve their agendas.

It’s been alleged that the National Rifle Association has undue influence on Congress because of its political spending. For example, the Washington Post believes the NRA’s money is why the ATF has trouble imposing gun control regulation that will supposedly “help stem the smuggling of high-powered AK-47s and AR-15s” to Mexico:

Such is the power of the NRA. With annual revenue of about $250 million, the group has for four decades been the strongest force shaping the nation's gun laws.

Apparently, this criteria of “money equals undue influence” only applies to the NRA. Table 1 shows that since 1990, public sector unions contributed $208.8M to federal candidates – giving 86.5% ($180.6M) to Democratic candidates – versus the NRA’s $18.2M.

† Campaign contributions include both individual and PAC money.

The two teachers’ union PACs alone spent more money than the NRA (see Table 2).

According to Washington Post criteria, public sector unions have about 3.6 times more undue political influence than the NRA. If it’s wrong for the NRA, how can it be right for public sector employees to use our money – our taxes pay their salaries, benefits, and union contributions – to influence legislation?

The NRA is a private, member-supported organization. Public sector unions are often mandatory-membership organizations: employees must join to work. Union members in Indiana and Wisconsin have been protesting against proposed legislation that would eliminate the “mandatory union dues teachers and other public workers are required to pay.”

Apparently, unions are losing public support:

"There's a perception that was not present in 1995 that public employees are almost a privileged class," said Richard Vedder, an economics professor with Ohio University who studies the labor movement.

A recent Rasmussen survey found 48% supported Wisconsin Governor Walker’s “showdown with unionized public employees,” while 38% supported unions.

A Clarus poll found that 64% of voters believe “government employees should not be represented by unions.”

Curiously, teachers apparently have time to stage protests in many states, but not to teach. Regarding the Wisconsin legislation:

The National Education Association, which represents 3.2 million workers, said teachers' collective bargaining rights are also being targeted by proposals in Ohio, Idaho, Indiana and other states.

The U.S. Department of Education reported that in 2009 68% of 4th graders and 69% of 8th graders couldn’t read proficiently.

People lacking reading skills are unable to comprehend founding documents such as The Federalist Papers, rendering them incapable of appreciating the principles of American liberty or valuing what they’ve lost when another freedom is regulated into oblivion.

** Campaign finance and NRA data compiled into Excel work