http://www.washingtonpost.com/busin...012-election/2012/02/22/gIQAP5fhSR_story.html Union spending for Obama, Democrats could top $400 million in 2012 election By Associated Press, Published: February 22 WASHINGTON â Unions are gearing up to spend more than $400 million to help re-elect President Barack Obama and lift Democrats this election year in a fight for laborâs survival. Under siege in state legislatures around the country â and fearing the consequences of a Republican in the White House â union leaders say they have little choice as they try to beat back GOP efforts to curb collective bargaining rights or limit their ability to collect dues. âPeople are digging deeper,â said Larry Scanlon, political director of the countryâs largest public workers union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. âIf Republicans take over the presidency, Congress and enough state legislatures, unions will be out of business, pure and simple.â Scanlonâs union was the biggest overall spender in the 2010 midterm elections, doling out about $93 million to help state and federal candidates, mostly Democrats. This year, AFSCME is expected to spend at least $100 million or more on political action, including television advertising, phone banks and member canvassing. The effort is to help the president, Democrats running for the House and Senate, gubernatorial candidates and key state lawmakers. With increased spending planned by other labor groups, including the powerful Service Employees International Union and the AFL-CIO, unions are likely to top the $400 million they spent to help elect Obama four years ago. Not all union expenditures on political action are publicly disclosed, so some numbers are based on self-reporting. But unions have long been known as one of the most reliable supporters of Democratic candidates and their efforts have increased with every election as the threats to organized labor grow. Unions already spent more than $40 million last year to successfully repeal an Ohio law that restricted collective bargaining rights and to recall lawmakers who backed a similar measure in Wisconsin. They are spending millions more in a bid to recall Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who led the charge to curb public employee union rights as a way to balance the stateâs budget.