Washington, D.C., Lobbyists: Labor Unions and Issue-Oriented Organizations - dummies

Washington, D.C., Lobbyists: Labor Unions and Issue-Oriented Organizations

By Greg Rushford

Labor unions are major lobbyists in Washington, D.C. From the American Federation of Teachers to the Air Line Pilots Association, labor unions represent — what else? — the interests of their members. In Washington, laws and regulations are written and rewritten each day that impact workers’ benefits and job security.

Labor unions ensure that workers’ voices are heard when those decisions are being made. For example, one of the largest unions, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), represents 1.4 million members who work in public service and healthcare. AFSCME represents its members on everything from improving unemployment benefits to raising the minimum wage. Unions represent all sectors of the American workforce.

In instances where a workforce sector isn’t represented by a labor union, chances are it still has a lobbying presence. For example, while trial lawyers don’t have a labor union of their own, they have a lobbying group representing their interests: the very well-funded American Association for Justice. So do Certified Public Accountants, realtors, and physicians.

Passionate about the right to bear arms? The National Rifle Association may be right for you. Concerned about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equal rights? Check out the Human Rights Campaign. Abortion rights? The National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws has you covered. Against abortion? The National Right to Life Committee is in your corner.

Whatever your particular political hot buttons, lobbyists are on your side. Some issue-centered advocacy organizations may consider their work a tad more righteous than the efforts of their corporate counterparts, but truth be told, the fundamental activity they engage in (striving to influence government policymaking) is identical to what the Chambers of Commerce and General Electrics of the world do.