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Blogs / Influence

AFL-CIO's Super PAC Strategy

August 13, 2012
This presidential election cycle will be different for major unions like the AFL-CIO because super PACs will allow them to use money to target campaigning to non-union workers.

The organization's president Richard Trumka said recently that the union opposed the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision because "we think it's corrosive to the system, but since it's there, we'll use a small part of it."

The landmark case lifted restrictions on unions who couldn't use money in their treasury to communicate with non-union workers. The AFL-CIO's super PAC, Workers' Voice, will allow them to target non-union voters.

During this election cycle, the AFL-CIO will have "ample resources," Trumka said. "It'll probably be in the same area [as last cycle] except for our Super PAC, we'll have a little more."

Workers' Voice has raised $7.1 million so far this cycle. The biggest donations come from the AFL-CIO and unions representing teachers and public employees.

AFL-CIO's general PAC, on the other hand, has raised just $109,519 thus far this cycle (the union affiliates' PACs have raised a bit more than that). In 2008, AFL-CIO's PAC raised $1.69 million.

But Trumka denies claims from conservative super PAC heads that unions will outspend their organizations, something that American Crossroads president Steven Law recently claimed. American Crossroads has raised $40.23 million thus far this cycle.

"What we do is we turn out people at the grassroots level, something they can't do," Trumka said. "And this time we're going to try to do it even better because now we're going to be able to reach out to non-union workers and talk to them."

Trumka said the union has a goal of mobilizing 400,000 volunteers, one they expect to exceed, who will primarily be working phone banks and knocking on doors. The union will focus its efforts on 20 battle ground states and six in particular: Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Florida.

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