* My Crain’s Chicago Business column…
According to OpenSecrets.org, a total of $6.5 billion was spent nationwide on the 2016 campaign by presidential and congressional candidates.
Closer to home, the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform says $134 million was spent on state legislative races in Illinois during the 2016 cycle and an additional $11 million or so on the special election for Illinois comptroller.
A huge chunk of that money is spent on advertising, which is incredibly expensive.
A smaller portion goes to campaign staff. Most of those workers are grossly underpaid, vastly overworked—regularly logging 80-hour weeks and even more—and too often treated like rented mules. Toward the end of campaigns, some candidates even decide to put all the cash they have left into advertising instead of paying their workers. As former campaign spokesman Lance Trover recently wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times, with tongue only partially in cheek, life for campaign workers “is nothing short of a living hell.”
Enter the Campaign Workers Guild, a newly formed union that has so far negotiated contracts with a couple of Democratic congressional campaigns, one in Wisconsin and one in Pennsylvania. The union was in Springfield on Feb. 27 to talk to a handful of campaign staffers about the benefits of union membership.
We’ve talked about this topic before, but the rest of the column is something I haven’t written about until now, so click here and read the whole thing before commenting, please. Thanks.
Also, I noticed something the other day as I was preparing to write this column. I’d earlier posted two videos of the campaign union’s press conference and one of them got 362 views, which is pretty successful for such a long video of a mere press conference with three reporters. I didn’t think it would get anywhere near 100.