Kamala Harris is a longtime ally of government unions – Here's why that should worry voters

As the long 2020 presidential campaign begins, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., has emerged as an early frontrunner for a restless Democratic Party.

Harris’ political smarts, California base, and commonsense style make her a serious contender. Even the man she seeks to replace, President Trump, conceded her recent rollout was the “best opening.”

But Harris’ rapid ascent wasn’t without help. She enjoyed the hefty backing from a range of financiers, raising questions about who and what she owes to those who bankrolled her political career.


In true progressive fashion, Harris can rattle off talking points about politicians beholden to corporations, but her record reveals a special interest of her own: labor unions.

Harris’ relationship with big donors came to a head in an uncomfortable exchange at a California town last year when an activist asked Harris if she would accept corporate political action committee (PAC) donations.

Harris stumbled. “Well, that depends,” she said.

“Wrong answer,” the man shot back in an exchange that went viral.

Desperate to repair this political wound, Harris pledged a few weeks later to refuse corporate PAC money.

“Money has now really tipped the balance between an individual having equal power in an election to a corporation,” Harris told the popular New York City radio show “The Breakfast Club.”

Progressives praised the decision and other candidates on the left have followed suit. A casual political observer might think the issue was laid to rest, but Harris cannot erase her connections to powerful government unions. They stretch back over many years, dating back to her days as a California prosecutor.

The Freedom Foundation – a national nonprofit organization that helps public employees break free from forced unionization and stand up to government unions and the worst elements of California’s big labor lobby – has seen firsthand the economic and budgetary damage politicians can do when beholden to a union’s fat campaign checks.

And Harris is beholden.

The senator is a longtime ally of government unions. That should come as no surprise, since she has taken more than a quarter of a million dollars in campaign contributions from labor in her career.

Just in the opening stage of her campaign, Harris’ inner circle has a D.C. swamp-style connection to her former labor backers, namely former Service Employees International Union (SEIU) President Laphonza Butler.

In October Butler announced she would end her 10-year stint as the leader of California’s largest union, just in time to serve as a top consultant for Harris’ presidential campaign – hardly a coincidence.

Sadly, government unions have wreaked havoc in California. They organized teacher strikes that have hurt students’ learning opportunities. They forced employees to pay unwanted dues out of their hard-earned paychecks. They cut backroom deals with corrupt politicians – whose political campaigns they fund – to maintain the failed status quo.

Finally, unions in California suffered a major blow with the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in the case of Janus v. AFSCME last June.

In that case, the high court decided public employees could opt out of paying union dues. The decision rattled the entrenched special interests – and politicians like Kamala Harris – that depend on the mandatory contributions to line their own pockets.

Since the Janus ruling, the Freedom Foundation launched a grassroots campaign of digital, mail and door-to-door outreach informing workers of their constitutional right to leave their union.

When public employees learn they have the freedom to leave their government union, they don’t hesitate. Thus far, as a result of the Freedom Foundation’s outreach efforts, more than 40,000 have said goodbye to their union in just the seven months since the Janus decision – costing unions over $45 million a year in lost dues.

That exodus of money and membership threatens the future of government unions; therefore you can be sure that finding ways to use the federal government to thwart the Janus decision and keep public employees in the dark will be at the top of government unions’ wish list when they meet with leaders like Harris.


Americans should wise up that a career politician like Kamala Harris can’t simply wipe her hands of old allegiances.

Her memory certainly isn’t that short, and neither are her government union backers.