Out-of-State Unions Fueled We Are Ohio’s Repeal Push in 2011

Out-of-state labor unions poured more than $20 million last year into “We Are Ohio,” a Super PAC that worked to repeal state legislation limiting collective bargaining and striking privileges for government employees.  Nearly half of the organization’s funding — over 47 percent — came from unions in Washington, D.C. and other states.

Although We Are Ohio’s website describes the group as a “citizen-driven, community-based, bipartisan coalition,” the Super PAC raised substantial sums of cash not from citizens in Ohio communities, but from unions in Washington, D.C.  In fact, We Are Ohio collected $2.75 million from D.C. unions before accepting a dime from an individual Ohio resident.

We Are Ohio out of state funding thru 2011

Between the group’s creation in March 2011 and the end of the year, We Are Ohio received contributions totaling $20,089,287.90 from labor unions and union lobbying groups outside Ohio. During the same period, individual Ohio donors gave $440,652.58. Through the entire Senate Bill 5 referendum campaign, out-of-state unions gave more than 45 times the amount We Are Ohio received from Ohio individuals.

Eight out-of-state unions and union lobbying groups sent We Are Ohio at least $1 million in 2011 for its push to repeal government union reform, according to public records:

  1. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), D.C.: $4,910,958.00
  2. National Education Association (NEA), D.C.: $4,078,566.46
  3. National Labor Table, D.C.: $3,000,000.00
  4. AFL-CIO, D.C.: $1,550,000.00
  5. Communications Workers of America (CWA), D.C.: $1,500,000.00
  6. Service Employees International Union (SEIU), D.C.: $1,105,347.77
  7. United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW), D.C.: $1,005,313.68
  8. SEIU 1199, New York: $1,000,000.00

Despite giving more than $4 million to We Are Ohio’s efforts to repeal Senate Bill 5, the Washington, D.C.-based National Education Association decried the use of out-of-state money to defend the legislation.

According to filings with the Secretary of State, “Building A Better Ohio” – the group formed to support Senate Bill 5 – received $12 million in donations in 2011. We Are Ohio’s $20 million in out-of-state labor funding far exceeded the entire budget of the main pro-reform PAC.

The Columbus Dispatch reported in February that We Are Ohio, which listed $730,210 cash on hand after the November election, plans to remain active in Ohio politics.

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