The National Air Traffic Controllers Association, a public sector union, has emerged as the second-largest donor to Democratic Super PACs, including a $1 million donation to President Barack Obama’s Priorities USA, reports the Wall Street Journal.
This support comes after the Obama administration gave air traffic controllers a plush contract. The Journal writes:
The union's support for Mr. Obama's re-election comes three years after the administration signed a contract with air-traffic controllers that contained pay increases higher than average federal raises, and included a guaranteed raise as well as payments for overtime and nights not available to most federal employees—though a contract extension that kicks in next month eliminates the guaranteed raise.
The union “enthusiastically” endorsed Obama’s reelection bid in November of 2011. The union’s president cited the administration’s support for air safety as the reason for their support.
The Wall Street Journal notes that air traffic controllers’ relationship with former President George W. Bush was “sour.” President Obama then nominated a “union-friendly official to head the FAA” when he came into office in 2009.
The controllers’ union is second in union donations only to the Service Employees International Union, despite having 20,000 members compared to SEIU’s $2.1 million.
The donations come as the Wall Street Journal revealed that labor unions spend “about four times as much on politics and lobbying as generally thought.”
The Journal examined Labor Department documents and found that beyond their reported political contributions,
[U]nions spend far more money on a wider range of political activities, including supporting state and local candidates and deploying what has long been seen as the unions' most potent political weapon: persuading members to vote as unions want them to.
These donations come as labor unions’ membership rolls dropped as a percentage of the national labor workforce.
Air traffic controllers have a history of political controversy. President Ronald Reagan fired all striking controllers in 1981 after their strike crippled national air transportation.