It’s budget season, and everybody wants something from Gov. Kathy Hochul – including labor unions. Unions have always been major political donors, and that was the case more than ever in 2022, when Hochul raised more than $50 million on her way to an all too narrow victory over Lee Zeldin. Unions, which value stability and Democratic Party leadership, were among the biggest winners, and some of them invested a lot.
Here’s which labor groups spent the most on Hochul in the previous cycle, according to campaign finance reports as of January. This includes donations both directly to the governor’s campaign, and those to the independent expenditure committees that popped up near the end of the campaign when it looked like Hochul needed a boost. And this just counts institutional donors – not money given by individual members.How can there be such variation? Unions often have multiple accounts, including various political action committees, some tied to national affiliates, plus accounts associated with multiple union locals. For that reason, this is a close but not perfect tally – some small donations may have been overlooked in compiling.
- Building Trades: $1,859,576
- The New York State Building & Construction Trades Council is a behemoth of an umbrella group. Affiliates like the District Council of Carpenters gave support to Hochul through its super PAC, but the surprising major donor among the building trades would be the International Union of Operating Engineers, which donated a combined $509,100 from various accounts and locals, all in direct giving to Hochul. The North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters also spent nearly half a million dollars on Hochul through its own super PAC.
- Teachers: $1,336,500
- The American Federation of Teachers and New York State United Teachers gave a whopping $1.1 million to super PACs backing Hochul. Unions including the United Federation of Teachers and United University Professions, also combined for $236,500 in direct donations.
- SEIU: $503,900
- Power players like 32BJ SEIU and 1199SEIU are part of the Service Employees International Union, which also donated directly to Hochul. Some $164,000 was in direct donations to the Hochul campaign.
- Hotel Workers: $447,400
- The Hotel and Gaming Trades Council and UNITE HERE help work the Democratic convention and election night parties. They also donate a lot, including to a super PAC which spent a quarter million dollars.
- AFSCME: $246,300
- The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and affiliates like District Council 37 and CSEA gave $166,800 directly to Hochul.
- Firefighters: $218,500
- Affiliates of the International Association of Fire Fighters, including the Uniformed Firefighters Association and Buffalo Professional Fire Fighters Association turned on their firehose of campaign cash – all direct donations.
- Transportation Workers: $196,500
- The Transport Workers Union, Amalgamated Transit Union and United Transit Leadership Organization keep New York moving, and kept Hochul’s bank account growing.
- Police Officers: $174,700
- The Police Benevolent Associations representing the state troopers, the NYPD and the Port Authority, and the state police, all gave to the governor.
- UFCW: $104,700
- United Food and Commercial Workers and its major New York affiliate – the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union – served up some cash for the governor, all through direct donations.
Correction: An earlier version of this story did not reflect spending from the North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters.