Anti-Walker Unions Back Congressman Petri (R-WI)

Petri (Center)
Petri (Center)

Labor unions that spent money to oust Gov. Scott Walker in a recall election have a long history of backing veteran GOP Congressman Tom Petri. Campaign finance reports reveal that Petri is a union favorite in Wisconsin, something that can’t be said for the state’s top Republican who had to fend off a joint union-Democrat challenge in the midst of his first term.

The labor union transparency organization has totaled the amount of money Petri has received from labor unions over the course of his tenure in Congress. According to their research, Petri has received $26,021 from the International Association of Fire Fighters. The IAFF poured $308,059 into its effort to elect Democrat lieutenant governor candidate Mahlon Mitchell in the 2012 recall election.

Mitchell unsuccessfully opposed Walker’s running mate, Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch.

The National Association of Letter Carriers is a part of the AFL-CIO. They have given $16,500 to Petri. In 2011 during the recall of several Republican state senators, the AFL-CIO spent nearly $5.2 million backing Democrats or opposing Republicans. During the attempted recall of Walker, the AFL-CIO poured nearly $1.3 million into the effort to knock out the Republican governor.

For 2014, the AFL-CIO has announced it will spend $300 million attempting to defeat five Republican governors, one of whom is Walker.

One of the most active unions in Wisconsin politics, the SEIU, has given Petri $15,000. Wisconsin affiliates of the SEIU have joined with their national union to fund Wisconsin Jobs Now!, a leftwing voter turnout group that supports Democrats.

The SEIU spent $1,058,538 in 2012 trying to defeat Walker and state Senate Republicans according to extensive research by the MacIver Institute.

Unite Here and the Transportation Workers Union have also contributed to Petri, respectively giving him $6,100 and $10,000 according to Both unions have ties to the AFL-CIO.

The National Education Association has given Petri a total of $2,500 – not a huge sum – but the NEA and its Wisconsin affiliate, WEAC, have heavily opposed Gov. Walker’s public sector collective bargaining reforms.

According to OpenSecrets, transportation and building trades unions gave a total of $74,000 to Petri’s campaign in the 2012 cycle. Some building trades unions back Republicans from time to time while others more heavily favor Democrats. In the 2010 campaign cycle, public sector unions gave a total of $23,250 to Petri. Public sector unions despise Walker.

Asked by a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter about the primary race unfolding against Petri, Walker simply said, “This fall, the only campaign I’m going to be focused on is mine.”