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