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Campaign 2014: Labor unions donate $1.15 million to California Democratic Party

By on September 23, 2014
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California’s most powerful labor unions, representing teachers, firefighters, engineers and nurses, added $1.15 million to the California Democratic Party’s already-sizable campaign war-chest Friday.

According to state campaign finance records posted Monday evening, the Democratic State Central Committee of CA accepted a total of $1.59 million in campaign contributions on Friday, the overwhelming majority of those funds came from the state’s labor unions.

The biggest check: $750,000 from the California Teachers Association.

CTA active since Vergara setback

Since its June courtroom setback over the state’s teacher tenure system, the single most powerful union in the state has invested heavily in Democratic candidates that toe the union line.
CTA 750k to California Democratic Party
According to the Los Angeles Times, the CTA spent $2.5 million in independent expenditures for the June primary on behalf of union-ally State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, who is locked in a competitive re-election campaign against Marshall Tuck, a former charter schools executive.

The union is hoping to reverse, Vergara v. State of California, a landmark decision that concluded California’s teacher tenure and dismissal process violates students’ rights by leaving low-income and minority students with the worst teachers.

Some of the CTA’s $750,000 in campaign contributions to the state party is likely to benefit Torlakson.

Days after ratifying contract, operating engineers write $275,000 check

While the teachers union hopes to influence future policy, one union rewarded Democrats for a recent contract victory.

Just days after operating engineers ratified a new contract with the state, two unions representing the state’s operating engineers contributed $275,000 to the California Democratic Party.

The deal, which was ratified by union members on September 16, included a 4.5 percent pay raise and, according to the Sacramento Bee, “a $250 bonus once the deal was ratified.”

Three days later, on September 19, the California Democratic Party accepted $150,000 from the International Union of Operating Engineers Local Union No. 12 and $125,000 from the Operating Engineers Local 3.

Operating Engineers Democratic Party 1

A third union, The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), contributed $100,000 to state Democrats on Friday. The party also accepted other contributions from various candidate and political action committees.

For a complete list of contributions, check out



About John Hrabe

John Hrabe spends his time traveling the world as a freelance journalist. When he isn’t on an international flight, John writes about state and national politics for,, Huffington Post and the editorial pages of the Orange County Register. John’s most recent high-profile investigation uncovered the questionable labor practices of Goodwill Industries, the nonprofit organization famous for its secondhand clothing stores.


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  5. steve mcdonald

    November 3, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    CTA has become a horrible monster of a union, bullying people and taking extreme political stands. Just try to be a teacher in California, and disagree with CTA – they will force you out. And does the CTA want what is best for children? or for themselves? Clearly they are out only for themselves, and for protecting the union’s interests. They no longer represent the best interests of our children, or even the teachers they claim to serve.
    I am grateful my kids out of their influence at this point, they survived with their own intellects intact, but it was challenging.
    The CTA needs to be disbanded. This is a pure political machine, no interests but their own.

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