During the campaigning season, brave union members were seen knocking door-to-door, handing out leaflets, and manning phone booths in an attempt to counter-balance the onslaught of of political ads thrown at Ohio by Republican Super PACs.
On Oct. 15, Restore Our Future (the pro-Romney Super PAC) launched a $17.7 million ad campaign aimed at ten swing states (Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin), as reported by The Huffington Post. This has been the group’s single largest buy during the 2012 election cycle.
Out of the two ads in this latest campaign, one depicts a wounded Iraq veteran hailing Romney as a man who “cares deeply about people who are struggling.” The other slams Obama for high unemployment, “crushing debt,” and declining incomes.
The pro-Obama Super PAC, Priorities USA, also launched an ad campaign targeted at swing states. It’s aim was to alienate Romney from middle class voters. Priorities said that this campaign was part of a multimillion dollar project but would not disclose the exact amount, according to The Huffington Post. However, on the group’s website, they say that by mid-September they had spent “over 6 million in the Buckeye State.”
Though unions are able to donate significant amounts of money to various campaigns, their amounts do not compete with Super PAC donations. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (ASFCME) is listed in Open Secrets as one of the “heavy hitters” in influence and lobbying. The union is left-leaning and has donated a total of $18,852 to Barack Obama during the 2012 cycle. Their total campaign donations from 1989 to 2012 totals at 65 million, not even half of the total spent by the Restore Our Future Super PAC this election cycle.
About 650,000 Ohio union members and volunteers fought to make up for that difference and fight the campaign ads targeted against the battle ground state. With one of the highest unionization rates in the nation, Ohio’s laborers began a grassroots campaign to win over voters.
Ohio Unions fought with a rejuvenated spirit, awoken by their battle with Gov. John Kasich over his attempt to push through Senate Bill 5. The bill would have impacted Ohio public workers’ ability to strike and collectively bargain for wages, health insurance, and pensions. Ohioans defeated the Bill in an overwhelming 61 to 39 percent vote, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
62 percent of union workers claimed that Romney’s support of SB5 made them less likely to vote for him, according to a pre-election poll done by Hart Research for the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations. The rise of Super PACs, along with Romney’s union-bashing, inspired public workers to take action during the 2012 presidential election.
Many labor unions, such as AFL-CIO, give the credit for Obama’s reelection where it’s due-to their members. However, what will happen during the next presidential election? Will labor unions rise to the challenge, yet again, to counter-balance the power of the mighty Super PACs? With their unlimited resources, Super PACs have the advantage. Labor Unions are in for a tough fight.